Sunday, December 24, 2017

'Tis the Season...

And all through the Studio,
Not a creature is stirring, least of all the potter.

All the orders are done. All the shows are over. The fall Studio Tour is over, my half-price sale is done.

Now it's time to relax, mix some of my famous eggnog, read a novel, bake a Yule Log, and wish all of you, readers, customers, friends, pets, acquaintances and ships that have passed mine in the dark,

Monday, October 23, 2017

Busy Time

I was a bit shocked the other day to see how many small orders I had waiting to be done. I'd just kind of hummed along the last couple of months thinking there weren't too many orders outstanding. Checked my notebook and it turns out I was wrong.

So I made a list and now I'm working at it. Somehow, orders are never fun. When I am making something just because I want to, I have only myself to please but with orders I have someone else to please. So I get the odd feeling that I'm not working for myself, I'm working for someone else, and of course I can't always be sure just what they have in mind. So many little questions arise that I didn't think to ask... for example, I know that so-and-so wants a blue pansy ring, but I forget to ask her what sort of blue. Dark blue, light blue, purply-blue, greeny-blue??? So do I make about 6 of them and do one in each colour and hope somebody will buy the others? Or call her (which would mean admitting I forgot to ask) or just guess or use the dark blue because that glaze is easy?

Another problem I have with orders is what I call Lis' rule of pottery making: "one will get shmucked." If you need 25 of something, better make 26 because one will get shmucked. Broken or cracked in the bisque or fumbled in the glaze or stuck to the kiln shelf or something, but shmucked. Unfortunately, this also means that if you only need 1, you'd better make 2 and thus all orders are automatically doubled. Sometimes I try to fool this rule by making the piece so early on that I'll have time to do it again if it fails the first time, but then the real insidiousness of the rule becomes apparent because it applies every time. Make one, it gets shmucked, make it another time and it gets... and so on. So you have to make at least 2 right off the bat.

The only time the rule fails is when you make 2 and both turn out OK. Then you're left with one that hangs around the studio for months until you finally unload it as a second. Or if you're really unlucky, the customer doesn't like either one and you end up with 2 you need to unload.

Of course, I'm exaggerating, it isn't always that bad. Practically all customers are just fine, they ask for what they want, in detail, and are quite reasonable when they see what I've made. Most of the time they are quite pleased, sometimes even delighted! That happened with some Toad Houses just now. I made 6 (she asked for 3) and they all turned out and she had a hard time choosing. She liked them all!

Well, I better get back to the shop. I need 1 butter dish with a twisty handle (eh?), a smaller than usual teapot, 3 mugs with leaves on them... unfortunately, the list goes on. It's beautiful out today, sunny and 15C so if I'm really good and work hard I'll allow myself to take Rosie for a long walk in the woods as a reward.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How's It Going With The Puppy?

She asked. Well, I said, let me tell you.

I've said 'No, Rosie', 798 times. In the last 3 days.

A kind friend is giving me a new duvet. I'm passing the stuffing from the  old one on to someone who makes dolls and uses a lot of stuffing. The damage was beyond stitching together and even patching looked dicey. All because Cat was on the bed, hissing.

She thinks her name is 'Rosie, bad dog'.

She's learned how to play fetch, that is, she's taught me to throw and she fetches. Then she won't let go and we have to tug-of-war. Have you ever played tug-of-war with a squeaky dog toy covered in slimy dog slobber?

The tennis ball, which flew through the air much better than a stuffed toy, is currently lost somewhere in the garden. It was very popular for a while, but then she ran off with it and I haven't seen it since. Only place I haven't checked for it is the pond...

Many plants have been successfully re-planted and will recover. There are holes ready for many more. It's my own fault for confidently telling someone, 'Oh, no, Border Collies don't dig.'

She obeys simple commands like 'sit' and 'go to bed' and 'out' very nicely, if you have a milk bone in your pocket. I learned this right after confidently telling the vet that Border Collies aren't food oriented and respond better to praise.

She much prefers cat food to dog food. The cat does not appreciate this. Speaking of food, she's learned to jump up and see what is on the counter. This explains what happened to my sandwich while I was at the sink getting a glass of water.

She's learned to throw her toys up in the air and catch them on the way down. Unless, of course, they land in the frying pan while I'm making dinner.

Border Collies aren't big swimmers, either. Which must be why I've had to fish her out of the pond about 6 times so far. She can leap in, but she can't climb out because the water is lower than the rocks that edge the pond. I'm planning on installing a ladder. Like a fish ladder, but for dogs.

Never get in the way of a puppy who is racing around and around the work table in the Studio with a stick in her mouth. Especially not if it is a large stick.

I didn't like those red garden clogs anyway.

Rosie inspecting a cactus... carefully. Good Girl!
So, how is it going? Well, I haven't laughed this much in years!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Life with a Puppy

Life with a new puppy can be very educational. I've taught my Owner quite a few things in the last couple of weeks.

For example, we now have a much better idea of how many small pieces of lumber and other sticks were tucked away under the counters in the Studio. Quite a few. This is something we were wondering about.

When done properly, a spot of digging can make dirt fly into the Studio, covering the entrance, the shelf of old pots beside the door, the buckets waiting to be washed, even the foot pedals on the wheels. The 600-lb rock step at the door might not get dislodged, but you can make a new and exciting gap between it and the threshold.

A bag of Styrofoam cups, when chewed and shaken by an expert, can cover a large territory. Half the driveway in front of the house, in fact. It will take Her 15 minutes of bending and scrabbling in the mud (it's been raining for 39 days so far...) to pick up most of the bits. The rest can wait. If it rains another day, it may not matter.

Bees are tasty. If you chomp them fast, they don't sting. But you may throw up later.

If you see a lovely small sponge you want, and She drops it into a slip bucket and it sinks, you can dive in after it. She might yell, but you've got the sponge.

Mosquitoes aren't much bothered by being barked at.

Turtles, on the other hand, don't care for it and tend to turn into small round things a lot like rocks, very hard to pick up and carry in your mouth. And they pee on you. Yuck.

Speaking of water, dropping large sticks into the dog water bowl is pretty cool. It makes a big splash and then you can lick the water off the wall. And you can get wet and then play in the mud from the hole you're working on as a surprise for your Owner, making it a double surprise.

Clay boxes are really fun to chew and rip. Newspapers are even better but they don't get soggy nearly as well. But if you chew on the corners of boxes with stuff in them, she makes with that 'No, Rosie, Bad Girl' routine. Does this make sense to you?

Don't chew on pin tools, ballpoint pens, or $90 red-handled secateurs. This makes her shriek.

But you can grab them and run. And leave them under various rose bushes... oh, gardening is so much fun.

Being  a puppy is fun!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New Puppy!!!

Drum roll, please!

Introducing: the world's cutest, smartest and most lovable puppy, Elphin Rosie.

Here she is sitting and considering her new world:

It's a strange one, and a wet one, as you can see! But after a bit of thought, she sets out to explore. Clearly, she's a true Border Collie, she already has 'the stare' down pat, all she needs is some sheep.

 Or a juniper that smells interesting:

Today the sun came out and we worked in the garden for a while. Rosie helped by dragging the trowel about 100' down the driveway, then making off with my phone (No, Rosie, bad girl....). After all that, a rest is in order!

So far, Rosie has managed to make Pepper the cat decide that she (Pepper) is never going into the kitchen again, has adopted an old oven mitt as her favourite toy, has raced a dangerous tea towel all around the Studio, and has taken on re-modeling one of the kitchen chairs. Yesterday in the Studio she did something I have never seen a dog do before. She found an old masking tape core in a box of empty clay bags and grabbed it for some serious and vigorous playing. It rolled, it bounced... she raced it around the tables. She growled at it, pawed at it, and raced it around some more. Then she walked over to the box, and dropped the tape back in.

Welcome home, Rosie!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Catching Up

Can hardly believe I haven't posted for so long... must have been busy! Let's catch up.

January, well, January was there. Not too sure what I did, shoveled snow, made stews and soups for dinners, tried to organize my paperwork...

February, shoveled snow, made soups and stews, tried to organize my pottery year.

March, shoveled snow, contemplated salads, made pots for the Maple Run Studio Tour and the Easter Market in April.

April, did the Tour (went very well, thank you to everyone who came and the organizers who did a fantastic job, you guys rock) and the Easter Market in Carp. Also went well although the space I was given had me stumped for a few minutes. Luckily a neighbouring vendor had a good idea and I put together the world's first V-shaped display booth. Having a pillar smack dab in the middle of my space forced creativity! It worked and again a big grateful 'thank you' to the organizers and our customers. Went home and shoveled snow.

May. So far, practically no snow, but dreadful floods in the Valley. So much rain and snow melting up north that the Ottawa River and it's tributaries rose to 100-year levels. I feel very sorry to all the people affected. I know houses and possessions are only things, but when you've worked hard to get them and keep them nice it's heart breaking to lose them like that. Water levels are now falling and soon the clean up can begin. I really would rather shovel snow.

So. I've been working hard in the Studio the last month or so, making what I think of as Spring pots. Pansies, tulips, Bird designs. I didn't get to making any Bird pieces before the Maple Run Tour, so I told anybody who asked that Bird had gone South and wasn't back yet. Now they're back, and when the Carp Market opens this Saturday, there will be lots of Bird pots!
collage of pottery
I'm looking forward to seeing my booth at the Carp Farmers' Market this Saturday. I've made and collected a bunch of things to decorate for Mother's Day:  cards, pillows, things-painted-turquoise and a fabulous turquoise chair. It should be a fine day!

And no snow.

Friday, January 6, 2017

On the Constant Migration of Objects

I don't know about you, but I find myself spending a fair amount of time moving things around. I really became aware of this this past week as I put my studio back together after my Christmas sale.

For the sale, I have to move all my pots into the studio. I am not able to heat the half-garage (which I call Crabapple Gallery) where I store my pottery. That's fine most of the year, but not so fine in December when it is apt to be well below freezing. I usually invite a few friends to join me with their art work, and they get the house. So all pots have to move into the studio. I carry my pots around in those Rubbermaid containers, more-or-less cushioned by pieces of bubblewrap. I think this year it was about 20 trips to bring them all in. Of course, there were also things in the studio which had to go in the garbage - trip to the garage- and things that had to be washed - trip to the house, trip back.

After the sale, things had to be put away again so I could have my work space back. So 4 tubs back to Crabapple, several trips to carry the tablecloths, left-over wrapping paper and bags and such, several trips to take my Christmas decorations back to the garage where they can get lost for another year...

So it took me about two days to move objects to get ready for my sale, and the better part of a day to move objects back to where they came from so I could get back to work. And this goes on all the time. This morning I planned to make small plates, but before I could start I had to carry water to the studio because the pail was empty, take the bowl of washing water in to the house and clean that up, then take the bowl and the washed things back to the studio. Then I noticed that the last firing had left several seconds sitting on my table, so they had to go to Crabapple, and while I was there I picked up some bags because my small stack of bags in the studio was depleted.

Seems I'm always moving objects around. Maybe I'm not a potter, just a clay-based beast of burden. Years ago, going canoe camping, I used to measure all trips in the number of portages involved. Maybe nothing has changed... or maybe we humans are only here to serve all those objects that want to move from place to place but lack the feet to do it with.