Monday, June 29, 2009

Custom Orders, Part Two

Last week's posting on custom orders was advertised in an email I sent out to the seven hundred or more people on my mailing list. I managed to get some interesting orders and the pictures of these items speak for themselves. Like I said last week, I have mixed feelings about these kind of orders. They are a lot more work than my standard items, but it's really fun to see what people come up with. And the people who order these items are really thrilled to get them, so it's fun to get the rave reviews. Sales are still pretty slow this year, so this is a good way for me to squeeze some extra sales out of a slow economy. If you like what you see here and want to place your own order, just check out the "custom items" section of my webstore. You might want to get your orders in before I raise my prices on this service. Our next kiln comes out in about three weeks!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's kind of like making custom birthday cakes, only on pottery.

My apologies to my faithful readers for my lapse in blog postings lately. I kind of dropped the ball on my blog last month and I'm finally getting back in gear here. This week I'm putting together a pair of email sales pitches to my retail customers and my wholesale accounts for a niche market I've been cultivating over the years: custom cartoons on pots. It's a service I've been doing for years, and we always get rave reviews for these items. It's always interesting to see what kind of designs people come up with. Last week, I received a great little cartoon for an order for a commemorative bowl for a dog named Toby who passed away this year. I'm looking forward to putting this cartoon on a salad bowl. To me, this is the perfect custom order: simple, fun to draw and very sweet.

Over the years, I've done dozens upon dozens of these kind of pots. Commemorative wedding gifts are a popular item. One of my all-time favorites had Wally jumping a Harley Davidson motorcycle over the wedding party, on the groom's side were scary biker types and on the bride's side normal middle-class people. It's a timeless story: the good girl falls for the bad boy. For some reason, I seem to have gotten a number of custom orders from Deadheads and Phish devotees. These cartoons are as cryptic as Grateful Dead lyrics: "Harry meets Sarah dancing in The Phil Zone". Unfortunately, I haven't taken many pictures of these items, but perusing my collection of pics this afternoon, I did find a good one that illustrates this point perfectly. If you happen to fall in love at a jam band concert and you want a commemorative item, I'm the guy you need to call, OK? !!!!!
So I kind of have a love/hate relationship with these pots. I've been known to grouse about how much work it can be to draw them. Those "Holy Shit! That's good coffee!" mugs are so easy to draw, I can do them with my eyes closed. Conversely, the graphics on these custom orders are a real challenge. And I don't charge nearly enough as I should for this service. Right now, it will set you back and extra five dollars for a custom order. Pretty cheap, huh? I suppose I should charge more. But when these pots come out of the kiln or when I get that glowing email telling me how the plate with the goofy cartoon made the birthday girl cry tears of joy, it makes me realize I can't stop making these pots for people. To order a custom item, you can go to the "custom items" section of my webstore.

Father's Day SHOUT OUT to Walter G. Edwards: My dad turns eighty this year and he was the early inspiration for my odd style of drawing. When my sister and I were kids, he would always leave us silly notes with lousy drawings on them. I'm pretty sure these lousy drawings were stuck in my subconscious when I picked up a glaze pencil back in the 1980s and started this line of work. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me how to draw like an eight year old!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Odds and Ends

It's been over a month since my last post and I apologize to my faithful readers for dropping the ball on my weekly blog like I did the past four weeks. I really didn't have much to write about as my pottery work was pretty much on hold due to a series of circumstances. And, in all honesty, I just haven't been inspired to write. But things are finally getting back to normal, and this week's post has some nice odds and ends to follow up on. Here goes:

Bo Obama's dog bowl is out of the kiln! The First Family finally got their dog last month so I was finally able to decorate a few of those blank dog bowls that had been sitting in my studio for many months. For the background on all this, see my post, "I'm on the Obama Dream Team!" Today I'm shipping this minor masterpiece out and my well-placed customer is going to hand it to her well-placed friend who will hopefully personally hand it to The President. I realize that it could blow the surprise for the First Family by posting pics of it on the web right now, so if you are friends with the Obamas, please don't tell them about it, OK?

New topical humor! Along with the presidential dog bowl, I came up with two new designs this week. I couldn't resist doing a swine flu joke, even if that topic is on the wane now. A few months ago, I received some emails from disgruntled Republicans urging me to come up with some jokes slamming the new administration. While this one is a far cry from a "slam", it does take aim at Janet Napolitano, one of the current objects of conservative disgruntledness. I have a very limited number of these available in mugs, plates and bowls in my webstore now, and I'm pretty sure they are destined to be collector's items.

My other new design has much better marketing potential. It's available in mugs only, and I really like the way it could be a joke gift given from a Republican to a Democrat or vice verca. We shipped out a bunch of these to my various accounts today, and I still have a few in stock and available in the webstore. I'm excited about coming up with more new designs later this month, and I should have another firing out in about three weeks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


One of the things I like about forcing myself to write this blog every week is the fact that I'm getting some interesting and esoteric stories about my work loaded on to the the web where they will hopefully be archived forever. This will be a real bonus for the folk art historians of the future who decide to research my odd little niche in the crafts universe. Yes, I realize this sounds a bit egotistical, but when you see the photo at the end of this post, you will see why I'm feeling so full of myself today. The topic for this week is "Fan offerings and the fans that offer them: a trip down memory lane with the stuff people have sent me over the years". Enjoy!

The Tim T-shirt: This came to me from a fan who wanted to make a commemorative shirt for her friend Tim who was going on a trip to Japan. It was always fun for me to wear because people thought it was a typo that it said "Tim" instead of "Tom".

The Fred Babb original plate: Back in the summer of 1989, we had so many orders that there was a six week waiting list for galleries to receive their pots. Oh, those were the days! One of my best accounts was "What iz Art?" in Cambria, CA. It was owned by Julia and Fred Babb. Fred is an amazing artist and he is one of my true heroes and mentors in the world of crazy, fun and magical self-expression. When I told Fred his order was going to go to the back of the line just like everyone else, he sent me this plate as a bribe. It worked like a charm and I squeezed his pots in the next firing.

The silver Wally pin: A jeweler named Jewel sent me this a few years ago, and I love the way Wally looks in shiny metal. I used to do ceramic Wally pins back in the 1980s, and one of them was worn by Demi Moore in the film, "The Seventh Sign". Look for it in the chase scene where she is running through a church wearing a beige overcoat. Wally is right there on her collar!

The Wally Tattoo: This pic just came to me last week from a superfan via email.... really! I'm overwhelmingly flattered by it and I'm still kind of in a daze. It isn't finished yet, as the Wallys need to be colored in and the banner will have a phrase. The words have yet to be decided.... any ideas out there?

P.S. I just got a nice mention today on Check it out!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BJM tonight

Just a short little post this week as I'm not in the blogging mood. But I am in the sycophantic rock fan mode today because tonight I'm going to see one of my very favorite bands in the whole world, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Their sound is an reminiscent of The Stones in their psychedelic period, but they have pulled off an amazing feat by creating much more than just a retro sound. A few years back Robin brought home their double CD "Tepid Peppermint Wonderland" and after just one listen I was totally hooked. Their lead singer, Anton Newcomb, is one of the craziest geniuses in the rock world, and his live appearances can be really hit or miss. Check out the documentary, "DIG!" to get a good overview of his eccentric (i.e. borderline psychotic) personality. I was lucky enough to see them live two years ago and the show was near perfect and they played for almost four hours without a break. Other shows have clocked in at just fifteen minutes so it's a real crap shoot what you get when you see these guys. Whenever I see a band in concert, I always like to pick a song I hope they will play. My pick for tonight is "That Girl Suicide". Here's a ragged video of the song:

Post script: It was a great show and they did indeed play "That Girl Suicide". Here's a nice review in Denver

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

George Clooney Flavored Tofu Confirms My PETA Conspiracy Theory

This week I'm going to use my blog to expose something I've been wanting to expose for years: my sincere belief that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) simply has to be run by people who hate animals and they are doing everything in their power to make a joke out of the animal rights movement. This heinous subterfuge has been painfully obvious to me for a very long time, and I'm hoping that last week's ultra-wacky PETA news story will finally make my theory clear to the rest of the world. For those of you that missed it, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk procured a sweat-soaked towel used by actor George Clooney, and she is in the process of trying to develop a food product that will taste just like the academy award winning actor's precious bodily fluid. In a letter to Mr. Clooney, Ms. Newkirk wrote:

"The technology actually exists to take your perspiration and make it into George Cooney-flavored tofu (CloFu). We could do that and give the tofu away. Of course, your fans would swoon at the idea of eating CloFu, but what interests us most is that we would attract many people who don't try tofu because they worry that it would be bland or that they wouldn't know how to cook it."

There are so many levels of bizarre and stupid in the above paragraph that it totally boggles the mind. Why would anyone be attracted to a food that tastes like movie star sweat? If she were pitching smoothies with the flavor of Angelina Jolie's breast milk, I suppose an argument could be made that there is a small niche market out there, but true CloFu aficionados are creatures so rare you will only find them described in abnormal psychology textbooks.

But the abnormal is the norm in PETA-land and to support my conspiracy theory I will list below some of their "greatest hits" stupid news stories over the past decade. These prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the people who run this left-wing organization are a cabal of right-wingers. And they are laughing their asses off as they do so.
  • January, 2009: PETA calls for fish to be renamed "sea kittens" so people will be less inclined to eat them. It makes perfect sense. We'll all stop eating tuna sandwiches if we just change their name to "sea kitten sandwiches".
  • December 2007: The "KFC blows" campaign in Thailand uses inflatable sex dolls to protest the fast food chain. Again, there is the subtle theme of perversity in this PETA protest idea.
  • February 2005: "The Fish Empathy Project" borrows the slogan "Fish are friends, not food" from the animated film Finding Nemo. This catchphrase is from that great scene in the movie where the sharks are in the mock-AA meeting trying to deal with their urges to eat fish.
  • June 2000: The CBS TV show "Survivor" was blasted by PETA protesters over an episode where the contestants caught, cooked and ate some native rats on a remote tropical island. For some reason. the TV viewing audience was unable to develop an empathy for rats.
The sad thing here is that the cause of animal rights is a valid one and PETA continues to make a mockery of the very thing it claims to champion. I've always felt that Greenpeace and PETA are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of smart vs. ridiculous media campaigns. Greenpeace seems to have its way cool public image figured out and the fights it chooses to fight are respectable and thought provoking. PETA on the other hand picks stupid issues. This George Clooney sweaty tofu story is just another example of how idiotic this organization has become. I do wish PETA would dissolve and get replaced by a group that the public can listen to without breaking into uncontrollable laughter. I'm half serious when I say it's a right-wing conspiracy. That's the only logical explanation here. Are there any investigative journalists out there that could prove my theory? I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out my joke was the truth and PETA's "truths" turned out to be a joke.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Long Lost Wallys

Every so often I get an email from someone who has searched for me on the web because their treasured Wally mug, plate or bowl has broken and they need a replacement. The most recent request came from Mark in Washington DC and the mug that broke was an old design that I vaguely remembered... something about smoking, nihilism and angst. For some reason I couldn't recall all the details of this one and a search through my filing cabinet couldn't produce a photo of the mystery design. Fortunately, Mark sent me a pic of the broken mug and a replacement is forthcoming in this week's kiln load. But the search for the "lost" Wally adventure got me thinking that I really should get my archival act together. So in the interest of posterity, I'm posting below a whole bunch of ancient Wally adventures. Folk art curators of the future take note... all of these are out there somewhere!

  • "Wally descending a staircase" (a la Marcel Duchamp)
  • Wally gets an NEA grant to wrap himself in an American flag and sit in a vat of lemon jello
  • Here it is! The highly controversial Mapplethorpe portrait of Wally
  • Wally channels Andy (Warhol) and hits the party circuit
  • Wally still can't figure out the lyrics to "LA Woman"
  • Wally and Axl Rose do a killer cover version of "When I'm Sixty-Four"
  • Wally goes to a punk rock nightclub
  • Wally gets front row seats to a Morrisey concert and becomes celibate
  • Wally gets a B-52 to sing backup on his new album and has his biggest commercial success ever
  • New age superstar, "Walli" opens at a Yanni concert with his shimmering cover version of "Holiday in Cambodia"
  • Wally, the world-class charades master, plays a round where he must non-verbally communicate the titles of old Brian Eno songs
  • Wally convinces the Jerry Garcia band to do an eighteen minute cover version of "The six Finger Jingle" WTF! This is the most ridiculous and esoteric joke I've ever done! - Tom
  • Wally and Mr. Rogers become vampires and do a late-night infomercial
  • Most dogs simply eat grass.... Wally watches "Thirtysomething"
  • Agent Cooper notices a curious, distinct pattern in the donut scenes in"Twin Peaks"
  • Wally goes to Hell and listens to the same Barney tape forever
  • Wally casts Lorena Bobbitt in the leading role in "Edwina Scissorhands"
  • Wally stars in the low-budget sci-fi epic, "The Two-Headed Dog from Pluto"
  • Wally, the bravest dog on Earth, operates a leaf blower at Sean and Madonna's house at six in the morning
  • Wally takes The Pope to a rave
  • Wally attains cult status
  • A Wally cult member goes crazy
  • Wally's friends get worries when he becomes a complete Susan Powter fanatic
  • Wally humps a watermelon
  • Wally gets his watermelon a sexy new outfit
  • Wally gets kinky... menage a trois with watermelon
  • Wally's adventures with watermelons create a litter of little wallymelons
  • Wally lands his total dream job: product durability tester at Aacme Love Dolls, Inc.
  • Wally goes straight to the tabloids with shocking polaroids of hmself and Bill Clinton
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton gives Wally the job of enforcing her new health care program
  • Wally and Tipper Gore star in the environmentally correct remake of "Easy Rider"
  • Wally and Dan Quayle take the stealth bomber to Vegas
  • Wally and Dan Quayle fantasize about having a bloodless coup d'etat here in The United States
  • Wally bumps into Ted Kennedy and Pee Wee Herman at the all-night liquor store, porno shop and dog biscuit emporium
  • Wally and Al Gore go to a Marky Mark lookalike contest
  • Wally pulls quite a prank on Japanese Candid Camera
  • Wally deciphers Al Gores book and finds himself living in an old "Twilight Zone" episode
  • Wally's mother reveals that Bob Packwood is Wally's father
  • Wally and Godzilla get a great advertising gig for the Mothra Twins
  • Wally gets Tonya Harding a job advertising "The Club"
  • Wally's gay ski shop in Aspen goes broke and he is forced to burn his Barbar Steisand records for warmth
  • Wally and Mother Teresa blow off World Youth Day and hit the outlet stores in Silverthorne
  • Wally finds a miracle buffalo pie at the base of the Mother Cabrini Shrine.... is it the divine image of Elvis or Jesus?
  • Wally gets his very own cold war surplus MX missile
  • Wally and Joe Camel summon the spirit of Sigmund Freud
  • Wally gets Rush Limbaugh a date with a feminazi
  • In a shameless ploy for media attention, Wally agrees to a conjugal visit with Amy Fisher
  • Wally's bogus environmental organization raises enough money to sponsor a spotted owl driver in the Indy 500
  • Nike and The Grateful Dead hire Wally and Ken Kesey to promote their new shoe -I love this one.... Ken and Wally are saying, "It's a shoe and a bong! It's Nike's 'Dead Air"