Brenda and I work far in advance of project completion. It may take a couple of years for a project to move from idea to completion, sometimes it’s a matter of days…but most of the time a new idea takes 9-12 months to work through.
It’s easy to understand why when you realize that our work is primarily inspired by nature…natural things or colors or seasons and so forth. So if one gets an idea that requires the use of a leaf for example…and you think of same in say, January…you wait. Either for spring or the fall, depending on the state of the leaf in question…and then you work on the idea which could be a month or more (easily).
I frequently get ideas when we’re on road trips. I mean, what is one supposed to think about while driving down the road...driving? So I sort of keep a rolling log of ideas to consider when I’m back in the studio. I might find a rock that is just too cool to leave on the ground and that rock might become the muse for an idea later…now to find that thing…or, as in the case of one of our two new projects in process, I need to find material to build parts of the project. So at our cabin in Montana I searched for some good “stuff” to work with back in the studio.
Color combinations are a big thing on my radar at the moment. It would seem that Mother Nature has a pretty good eye when assembling the vistas (and not so vistas) that we all enjoy. So my camera is in-hand on walks lately. I’m thankful that the digital process came into being…once upon a time, sounds like eons…more like a couple decades ago, it was film and that expense of developing quick little memo/pictures was, how do you say it… “special.” I snap pictures in quantity…from the phone…from my Canon…along with video from those two as well as my GoPro.
I’m finding that by keeping the digital tools with me I tend to keep my antennae up and my brain engaged in a different sort of way…although I have to admit that I saw a grizzly bear the other day and didn’t snap the picture…the camera was in my lap and I just didn’t think about it...awesome!
Remember that "hyper-creativity" I talked about a couple of postings ago? Well it struck again...
This is Friday and I'm going to be firing obvara in a test mode today. I made the goo on Tuesday as scheduled for a few (literally three) pieces for a special order that I'm trying to get out the door. Having the goo in process helped but Wednesday we got a request for proposal and we needed a new twist on a product to make a price point happen. Brenda came up with a great idea and off to the studio I went to make prototypes...somewhat dry on the molds on Thursday morning...finished the edges and sponges and colored up before Noon...into the sun to dry...and into the bisque kiln last night. The bits are out this morning and because I made that goo on Tuesday, obvara for these prototypes happens this afternoon.
Concept to finish in just three days...in ceramics that's almost unheard of.
Why can I work this fast? First, it's just Brenda and I, so the levels of management that sometime hinder the ability to be nimble in a "normal" business are nonexistent...we work well together (for the past 44 years)...and we know our material, our equipment very well...we also have a wide variety of experiences from the past to draw from. That and I'm lovin' a challenge.
We just walked in the door from a trip to one of our supply chain folks and had this same discussion about being nimble. They had a major downturn when the owner passed away rather unexpectedly and had to change business models. All of their business was lost to changing technology and their engineer (the owner) died...they had to take on any business they could to stay in the game BUT by taking on small and unwanted jobs left by the larger shops, they have become the goto contract shop for many small businesses like ours. They're working on some custom samples for us as you read this. Very cool stuff...I'm excited about the possibilities.
We're keeping our business nimble and creating unique opportunities...not going to whine about the climate or the government or the economy...Tim Gunn would say, "Make It Work." Nimble and Quick...that's us.
We're back from the trek to Cleveland and the TNNA Summer Trade Show. The National Needlearts Association holds two trade show/markets per year, we attend both.
Folks generally start a conversation about the show with a question along the lines of "Was it a good show?" Of course. We knew it would good before we went. Why would we go if we thought it was going to be a bad show. But folks ask the question wanting to know if we made money.
Most of the time, we only use the monetization of an event as a small part of the success/not-as-successful determination of the event. There is so much more to an event like TNNA than the money aspect.
Don't get me wrong...pottery and money don't grow on trees. But we began attending TNNA shows and continue to attend them primarily for strategic purposes. It's not about transactional goals...it's all about strategic goals.
Okay, I'll be honest. Strategic goals may have a somewhat shorter timeline now than 40 years ago when I started my path in pottery, but even at (ahem...cough) 65, I think long term (it's relative) rather than what's happening today...at least in regards to the relationships that are developed through TNNA.
It was a great show for us. We can see many wonderful projects developing from the show. Some great new ideas discussed with our clients...and the crate is lighter coming home than it was going...always a good thing.
The response to our new colors was absolutely wonderful. The result of the response? We feel confident that our direction is a good one and are encouraged to continue make art...at home...on Hobnob.
I'm just hoping that I don't fall asleep with the glue on my fingers...seriously burning my candle on both the ends and tired? I apparently didn't understand the concept of "tired" until now.
It's an all out push to assemble the samples for TNNA in Cleveland. The planning for this event starts before the last show (Winter shows are usually in January) and the execution began nearly two months ago...so why on earth is there always a push/crunch/and yes panic at the end?
The bits for the workshop in Reno at Jimmy Beans Wool are not here yet. The crate is scheduled to leave here for Cleveland on Wednesday. Freight was scheduled for delivery...printing downtown...the details of this coming week or so are nearly overwhelming...even with my "big boy panties on."
Of course Brenda is traveling this past weekend and next so we're a little short handed (like by 75%) during those days...a weekend for Brenda is usually four days long so the math adds up too something ugly.
BUT...it is during these times of near panic that the hyper-creativity seems to rise/bubble/ooze to the surface. It's almost like one channels the adrenaline towards creativity. However that works...I'll take it. I don't need the panic, but I'll take the creative response.
Not really a good idea to start the week with a panic attack...but the week started on a Tuesday instead of a Monday and it's throwing off my sense of time...but for Veterans that would be okay be me. Thank you.
But I realized that I hadn't gotten any notification on the part I ordered from the kiln company...a part I NEED for the Jimmy Beans Wool retreat...like in need it NEED IT...can't happen without it sort of part. Couldn't call them over the long weekend...today I find out that they have it sitting there waiting for me to pick it up. Glad I called.
Parts for the gas hose from the tanks to the raku kiln are on their way...and will arrive with just a day to spare. Too tight for comfort...more panic.
I'll be firing some more raku tomorrow so that should take my mind off the parts...8 days until I'm on the road to JBW...
But only 7 days...yes, I'm counting...until the crate is picked up to ship out to Cleveland and the TNNA Summer Show...and Brenda has been all over me for a couple of photos of pieces...but the bits really need to cool down from the kiln...up against a deadline.
Off to work...inhale Jim...no panicking...breath...commune with the trees...
Fired both obvara and carbon painting yesterday. I was washing up the bits and thought, "I should have more carbon painted bits." Right I was...forgot an entire tray.
Back to the kiln, load it up, torch it off...luckily it was still early enough in the day that I could finish all the work and get them all washed.
The checklist for The National Needle Arts Association summer trade show is on our desks...time to make any last minute adjustments...and there are still bits to color up, bisque and fire. Two more days of raku...saggar later today and then detail all the bits for the Jimmy Beans Wool Retreat.
Between JBW and TNNA we're going to have a wicked start to June...Brenda will be in North Carolina and then Wyoming...flying home in time for the flight to TNNA...then it's off to Montana for a scant 3 weeks of time at the lake...RELAX...hurry up and RELAX...
We have a great friend, Margaret, staying at the house for our travels and taking care of the pups...Montana and Kylie. That will take some of the stress off.
The first real deadline...June 6...that's the day the truck comes to pick up the crate to ship to Cleveland.
Oh the life of a potter...sitting at a potter's wheel...shorts and flip flops...maybe throwing...maybe not...latte from a stoneware mug after eating granola and wheat germ for brunch...whistling to the birds in the trees while strumming the ukelele and contemplating a nap...not a care in the world.
I'm on a break from the studio work. I have been taking more breaks than I might normally...we have two furry kids and Brenda has been on the road for a few days. So my breaks have mostly for the pups...then I get distracted.
On my way to the studio I met up with one of my friends...we have a bazillion (or so) tree frogs on the property. They time of year the chorus at night is pretty raucous...cool little critters. They eat mosquitoes...we're besties.
I recently ran a little game on line...#heybrenda, Jim needs a compressors...and the message was received very well. Brenda was sent the message in some pretty wild ways. Brenda was attending a State Convention of P.E.O. here in California and a friend of ours plugged the #heybrenda tag through the AV equipment she was in charge of...while the winner of the drawing was a local fan up here in Gold Country, I decided that, based on the creativity alone, our friend Jen had to be a winner too...so I sent her a prize for the most creative delivery of the hashtag.
Of course, I'm still waiting for an ETA on that compressor.
Today is day 10 of the cast experience. It's not that uncomfortable. The weather has cooperated...I've only had one mosquito bite near the cast...so far so good. I'm hopin' that the good Dr. finds the wound well healed (or at least on it's way to well healed) and that I can wear shoes again...as opposed to wear shoe (as in singular). My guess is that he's going to want me to wear a boot. That would be better than the cast and I could take it off for kiln work. The cast slows me down and makes just the smallest thing a chore...like getting up and down in my chair on the studio. Never knew I was in and out of that thing so much...but alas, I need to return to that chair and glaze some more pieces.
The yard has just gone nuts with flower blossoms over the last few weeks...we go blue, we got yeller, we go purple...and rust and green on green...we gots that white color...just nutz.
I needed to take a few pictures so on a lark, I clipped a few blossoms and a couple of greens and what do you know, the pictures turned out pretty good.
So today is day five of the journey with the cast...nine more to go...yes...I'm counting.
Lucky for me...the entire time I'm "stranded" (I can't climb around the property and do yard work...and I certainly can not drive with the cast on the right foot) the plants should continue to provide blossoms as eye candy. So if I need to stay on Hobnob I will at least get to enjoy the bueatiful Spring.
I was taking pictures for work to put up on our Etsy site: https://www.etsy.com/search?q=lickinflames
So it's been three days with the cast on my foot. Wow...what a challenge.
And during those few days the neighborhood is being overrun by sheep on the lam (punny huh?). Well maybe not overrun (there are only 2 at the moment). At least I have a good excuse not to volunteer on the roundup.
I'm able to work at about 50%...funny how hobbling along with just a couple of pounds of padding, foam and fiberglass can be such a significant anchor. The only really insurmountable challenge is throwing pots on my potter's wheel.
The control pedal is on the right side of the wheel...sort of like the gas pedal on the car. I can't bend my ankle to control the speed...and that power cord from the wheel to the pedal...too short to use on the left side. I think my Dr. would have a cow if he thought I was getting the cast dirty.
There is a fair amount of bacteria that can be found in clay...I'm not risking an infection in my foot.
With a month to go until we get into the plane for trip to the TNNA Summer Show in Cleveland, we are bearing down on all things TNNA. We have a couple of new products (pictures by the end of the week), new colorways and today we decided to move forward with a new kit. We just can't help ourselves.
Managing projects is a big part of what Brenda does for us...I mean I make the stuff, but Brenda, she's the one that keeps it all moving in the right direction. She funnels all the bits through the process...
...like the 1600+ pieces that are being made for TNNA...seriously...over 1600.
I don't usually post personal whining, and I'll stick with that policy today. I do however, want to share a thought.
A Facebook friend, I'll call him Joe, doesn't go for regular eye exams and doesn't get his glaucoma caught until way late in the process...he's not blind but what he is able to see...well...he used to be an artist. He's not able to practice his craft/art form as he used too.
Not going in to the eye Doctor for a simple pressure test (it's painless...I've done it many ,many times) was a mistake. Not taking charge of you own body can create some very negative situations...
....but there are times when you take care of yourself as best you can and "stuff" still happens. That's my new cast. Stuff happened. At least it's a nice color. Now I deal with it.
My brain is swimming in a pool of ideas about how I am going to move forward...I got stuff to do...pots and bits to sponge...kilns to load...glazing and get this...I might be trying to fire raku in a cast. Sure I will...ONLY if Brenda is not looking.