Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Mud-Pie Dilemma Part 2

I'm not very inspired to post this week so I'll let the pictures do the talking. Noah has been in the studio painting like mad and the show pieces are done. My favorite ones are these plates. I think the colors will really pop when they come out of the kiln. Pricing is going to be weird as some of the mugs actually took longer to paint than these plates, which should fetch a higher price. For some reason, the public won't pay much more than $35.00 for a mug, but a nice plate could get twice that much. If we do another show, it might be best to do nothing but plates. The pic on the bottom are the refrigerator magnets.... too cool!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Mud-Pie Dilemma Revisited

The Mud-Pie Dilemma is the much-loved book for all of us baby-boomer potters.Written by John Nance, it chronicles pottery legends Tom and Elaine Coleman and their struggle to earn a living selling pots back in the 1970s. After observing the couple for a number of months, the author concluded that their effort to put together a showing of the best pots of their career netted them a sub-minimum wage for the endeavor. But the photos of the pots in the back of the book are to die for and this text was a true inspiration for me when I started making pots for a living over thirty years ago. Fortunately, Tom and Elaine are far more financially successful now, and their work continues to boggle the mind.

With slow sales in the Wallyware line, I've taken on a mud-pie dilemma of my own. I agreed to throw fifty pots in a collaborative show with Noah Van Sciver, cartoonist nonpareil, really nice guy and my oldest daughter's boyfriend. We've got a show lined up at the Earthwood Gallery in Boulder and the opening night is March 6th. Noah has been working on the pots for a couple of days now, and he should have them finished sometime next week. There are some really nice graphics getting painted on these pots. I was amazed that the very first thing he did in the studio was to decorate the two most ambitious pots of the series: a pair of vases. He knocked them out in a relatively short period of time and they are lovely. So it's going to be a fun show and we are in the process of trying to peddle our situation to various media outlets. It is a really sweet story: the potter/caroonist dad and the cartoonist boyfriend working together in the studio with the Brian Jonestown Massacre blaring in the background. Ahhh... the lives of a struggling artists!

But the finances of this gig are not going to be the best. I think we're going to beat Tom and Elaine Coleman in the profit margin category, but not by much. That's the problem with taking your time and doing your best work. It doesn't always pay off very well financially. But the pots are going to be cool... way cool!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

If you want me to re-enact the pottery scene from "Ghost", it will cost you extra.

I'm looking for a "real" job these days as my sales are way down and my inventory is way up. I've sent my resume off to a few interesting job prospects: 1) a dog toy factory looking for a customer service rep and 2) a funeral home seeking a funeral planner. The second one really captivated my imagination as it looks like a job that would have real meaning and it could be a satisfying thing to do for a living. I have a feeling I would be good at helping grieving people and it would be fascinating to have such a radical career change at this stage in my life. But neither of these potential employers have called back, so my life has yet to go off on a different tangent. Perhaps it's just as well.

A number of people have suggested that I teach pottery lessons and this is a good idea, of course, because I have the skills and the studio for this type of business venture. But I've always had an aversion to the thought of teaching people how to throw pots and I finally figured out why. On a recent episode of NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" the panelists were joking about a news story about British music teachers having to don protective ear muffs to save themselves from the sound of loud, poorly performed music. Host Peter Sagal quipped, "It's like forcing an animal lover to work in a slaughterhouse." This is exactly why I don't relish the thought of filling my kiln with a lot of beginning potters' work. I really love well-crafted pots and I think it would be tough to be involved in a money making venture where the physical byproduct is mediocre pottery. Call me a prima donna, but that's how I feel about it. I just don't have the passion to teach pottery.

The other problem with being a pottery teacher is the fact that most people's impression of throwing on the wheel is shaped by one movie alone: "Ghost". That sizzling scene with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze is still the image that most people conjure up when they think of my line of work. I suppose this could be a hook that I could use to make some real money. I could charge extra for the the "Ghost" experience... light some candles and play the right music. If I'm going to prostitute myself, I might as well do it right.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sinful Pottery

There are a lot of sins in my studio right now. The fact is,
I'm dealing with all seven of them: wrath, gluttony, lust, greed, envy, sloth and pride. The reason for this is I'm throwing pots for a collaborative show with underground comic artist, Noah Van Sciver. He suggested the sins as a take-off point for his comic art so I'm knocking out some mugs that will celebrate these seven defects of human nature. Noah is an emerging comic artist and my oldest daughter's boyfriend. I've lined up a showing at Earthwood Gallery in Boulder for these pots and it will be fun to see how they turn out. Sales are incredibly slow in Wallyworld these days, so it's a good time to do something new. I'm feeling particularly slothful this week, so I'll let the pictures tell the story for now.