Friday, August 26, 2011

Garlic Fest Update and My Next Crazy Project(s)

Quick Garlic Fest update: the event was a great success. We estimate somewhere around 6000-8000 people came..... three of whom bought Pine Ridge garlic keepers. Not that I mind, though, because I sold plenty of other pots, and the garlic keepers will sell eventually.

Now I'm concentrating on making 200 soup bowls for a local Empty Bowls project. The West Carleton Food Bank, with the help of the local Anglican Church ladies, will sell them at the Carp Fair as a fund raiser. I agreed to make them in a seriously rash moment. Didn't sound like much of a problem 'way back in January, but of course now it's a different story. Ah well, 100 are practically done and there's a whole 3 weeks left.

Somebody asked me to make him an oval pate terrine. I told you about those last post.... Now I have to try to make one. The terrine is easy enough, the lid will be impossible. Actually, I think all lids are impossible, but this will be more impossible. Why do I have so much trouble with lids? I measure so-o-o carefully, and still sometimes they don't fit. I had a friend years ago who was an amazing thrower. She came and threw 60, 10" casseroles for me (she wanted to, it made sense at the time), and when she had them all trimmed and ready to fire I asked her 'What about the lids?'.


She threw and trimmed 60 lids, and when everything was fired, I think about 3 casseroles had fitting lids.

I need an idea for decorating the Market Hall for the Harvest Festival Thanksgiving weekend. All my subconscious has come up with so far is pumpkins.... boring, boring, boring..... must do better. Pots to make are easy: pie plates, turkey platters, veg dishes. Lots of fun. But how to decorate inside a long skinny building?

And a personal note: my daughter has just had a really bad experience. It started with a pain in her tum, and progressed to several tedious and uncomfortable sessions at the local Emergency department, and ended with major surgery. She's fine but will be on mushy food for a while (wonder if she'll still like mashed potatoes after this?). I'm telling you this as a warning. The cause of the trouble? A bristle from a barbeque-cleaning brush. I would never have thought it was possible to swallow such a thing and not know it, but apparently it is. So please, be careful when you clean that b-b-q!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Garlic Keepers, or, 'Everybody Knows....'

This weekend is Garlic Festival weekend at the Carp Market so I have been busy making things like garlic keepers and garlic bakers.

The garlic keepers reminded me of something I find somewhat frustrating. I try to design each item I make to make it as functional as possible, while still looking good, and allowing me to decorate it in a way that I like. Some items are great, like mugs, because there are so many possible ways to make a mugs, and they all lend themselves to my kind of painted decoration. Others, like garlic keepers, are trickier. They wouldn't be so bad except that 'everybody knows' that garlic keepers have large holes. They would work just the same with smaller holes (and more of them) and then I could wrap sunflowers or pansies or whatever around the pattern of holes, but no, they have to have large holes so I can't do that. I tried them with small holes and never sold one. Customer after customer picked them up and asked if they were garlic keepers.... then when I said 'yes', they asked for 'one just like this only with bigger holes'. Eventually I gave up and now they have big holes and the flower, if any, is only on the lid.

They also often balk at the cost, and I tell them they have to pay extra for the holes. They think I'm kidding! Ha!

Another 'everybody knows' which also irks me is that 'everybody knows' milk bag holders are oval. They work fine round, but no, they have to be oval. I keep trying but so far I  haven't managed to make them look very good. And they are always heavy. If I have to squish them oval, I have to trim them fairly soft, and then I can't trim them enough, plus it is hard to attach the large handle.... not to mention that the size has to be super-exact or the milk bag either won't go in or slides out when you tip it. If only I could make that into a sales feature. You know, 'and the milk bag comes out really easily once the milk is half used'. No, I guess not.

Pate terrines, the kind you cook the pate in, are also always oval. Hmmm.

Wonder what other things 'everybody knows'. And I don't.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011



I always seem to get caught up in one area and fall behind in another. I've been putting in the hours in the Studio, so the house has gotten to be a mess. So I decided I'd do a bit each day this week so it wouldn't be too hard to bring it up to scratch before guests come on Sunday.

Yesterday  I vacuumed the carpet and washed the kitchen floor. In other words, I did the bottom three inches.

On Starting a New Business

A potter friend called to tell me about her new kiln. She's itching to leave the desk job and try to make a go of pottery, so she's testing the waters by offering a couple of throwing classes. She happened to mention that her husband isn't totally comfortable with her spending money on equipment and this reminded me of something.

Years ago when I was starting up I took a little one-week course on starting a small business. I think it was put on by one of the levels of government in one of those fits of Encouraging Small Business which happen any time tax revenues fall..... anyway, it was a pretty good course and I learned some stuff and felt confirmed in some other stuff. But what I strongly recall is the different approaches the women had versus the men. The group was about 15, about 10 women and 5 men, give or take a small error of memory. One of the exercises we did was to write down what we'd need for our businesses, and how we were going to get it. All of the women had lists like, 'well, I can borrow a serger from so-and-so, and I won't need an industrial iron until such-and-such, and I can work in the back of the basement for now' followed by,  in a gradually failing little voice, 'I can maybe borrow $500 from my mother....'. All the men said 'I'll need a this and a that which will cost about $100,000,  a building which should only cost $30,000 a year, and my wife and I have about $200,00 saved up for our retirement, so no problem.'

None of the women, and all of the men, considered that family savings were available for them to use to start their new business.

All of the men assumed they would succeed, and the women knew there was a pretty good chance they would fail.

Speaking of New Kilns

My new ConeArt is working very well, but, at 7.5 cu. ft., it isn't large enough. I'm having to really juggle what to fire when, sometimes even getting up in the night to re-load just to get those extra three or four hours so something will be done by some certain day. It takes a long time to cool, which is a good thing, but it does mean I can only do about three firings a week.

I'm thinking me and my trusty major financial institution may have to make another investment soon.

Photographing Pots

Another thing I'm really thinking about is how to set up some convenient way to take pictures of new pots. Right now it's so much trouble to set up for good pics that I don't bother. Bad. The question is space - where do I have room to set up a background and leave it up.

Musing about this, I realize that neither my house nor my Studio has any wall space left. The house is filled with books which take pretty well all the space not given over to doors, cupboards, shelves, windows and the like, and the Studio walls are covered with posters, pots I want to keep,shelves, counters, windows....

Anybody have any ideas? If you have a creative solution to this problem, I'd love to hear it!