Monday, October 31, 2011

Irodori, I'm impressed!

I'm in total awe today by the clay work of Irodori- such beautiful and well-executed patterns!  I love when I get totally impressed by someone who works in clay- where something surprises me, makes my jaw drop and has me wanting to see more.  That's all coloured clay put into a patterned block and rolled out- it's so remarkable that the shapes aren't getting distorted in the process.  That takes a lot of skill, patience and practice!  Wish I could read japanese and could purchase something...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On a Sunday in October

About a week ago the boys and I went on a great walk/bike ride, enjoying the bit of sunshine against the fall trees.  This is the kind of weather that makes me love where I live.  Ask me in about 3 months time when it's been raining for 5 weeks straight and I might not be so keen, but for right now, it's just so beautiful. 
I've been neglecting this space for a while.  I'm not online or on the computer very often these days.  For starters, the busy season has me ramping up my efforts in the studio and I get home, with clay splattering over my cloths, the boys hungry for my attention, and few precious hours to spare.  I've been wanting to read before bed and put my mind on other things, not just work and that's been healthy for me.  Frankly, my life has been rather quiet lately: a lot of introspection after a great amount of work completed, long conversations with friends who need me to be a good listener, and time spent doing things as a family have all been more of a priority.  All that being said, I will be stopping by here a couple of times a week, sharing some new work, up-coming shows, along with the occasional ramble from my heart.  I do hope you'll hang in here with me...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New sketches out of the kiln

 Well I did get a few new 'sketches' of ideas out of the kiln this last weekend (please excuse the i-phone pics)!  I'm still sorting out which ideas might work out as more of a series, but I think there are some good little 'moments' here and I'm liking the direction that it's leading me to.  As I sit down with my process of glazing, I've been realizing once again the potential for how I come up with patterns and designs.  It's kind of exciting for me- this type of development of ideas and work feels very organically linked to my past work, but also pushing me in a bit of a new direction.  I can't deny the 'folk art' and paper-cutting influences this time around.  It's complicated with my process to get connected repeating patterns all around a vessel, but it's also kind of fun challenge.  Again, I don't use any decals, so my method of creating 'stencils' is done with me and a pair of scissors, for each glaze design.  I thought it would be interesting to embrace my 'scissor-hands' by referencing paper-cutting motifs, and I've been moving some of my work into folk-art motifs for quite a while. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm ending the week on a positive note- I finally tackled a few more things that have been hanging over my head (namely accounting), and got caught up, thanks to help from a friend.  It was seriously a daunting task.  I know that this is something that's supposed to happen weekly or monthly, but sorting receipts has been the very last thing on my to do list, never to be crossed off.  And then it got out of hand.  Mounds and mounds of shipping receipts that I couldn't even imagine trying to record and sort through.  Mental block hit, and this last week I had the brainwave idea to get Kat to come in for help.  She helped me pack all the boxes to send to Anthropologie (they have arrived! not online yet) and she really is a wiz at being organized.   So, along with finishing up all my local shop orders, I feel as if I have a handle on things once again.  More or less, that is.  Until I realize that I don't actually have anything ready for my holiday shows... all in due time. 

I'll be in the studio this weekend with a bunch of 14 year old girls.  Our niece is celebrating her birthday and I offered for them to come to the studio while it's still bare, to do some making.  I have a feeling it's going to be full of laughs and giggles.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

green to yellow

I'm trying to get myself geared up for my 2 up-coming shows, and I must admit that it's hard to think about Christmas and holidays with this kind of weather. We are probably due in for a bunch of rain soon, but in the meantime, it's been lovely during the days, colder at night, with only a hint of frost.  The apples are starting to turn sweet, and we are going to have to get a hold of some more soon. 

I always find that fall feels like a good time to hash out new designs and ideas that have been stirring while all the other production has been going on.  Although this year my designs are getting more complicated and less efficient in the glazing department.  Glazing a kiln-load of work is taking me a whole week, when it used to take about 3 days, partly because I'm working through design ideas, but also because my process is just that- slow.  This does not bode well for me when it comes to wholesale orders.  I feel the pressure of needing to get the work out faster and smarter, and even cheaper.  It's an interesting thing to think through- how much wholesale (ie double the amount of work) can my business sustain.  I'm sure there are some good formulas out there for how much direct sales/wholesale/e-sales is a good mix- it would be interesting to know what that should look like. I guess finding the 'perfect formula' is somewhat subjective, but it would be at least nice to know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saying goodbye and hello

We celebrated my grandpa's life this past weekend and, as sad as it is to say goodbye, it was a meaningful time to think back on a life well-lived.  My grandpa has passed along many gifts my way- I still play his violin that he gave me years ago after he stopped playing.  Not only did I inherit some of his actual paintings, but his gift of making (pottery, painting, carving) is something that was passed along to me.  For people who truly lived off the land, raised 6 children, and were faithfully and happily married for 66 years, my grandparents have left a remarkable legacy.  My heart is with my grandma, who just moved into 'town' and into an apartment this week- so many changes for her all at once. 

Speaking of family, we also got to see my little nephew again.  It had been a couple of months since we had seen him and in the meantime he's been walking and talking.  It didn't take him long to warm up to my boys- his cousins.  By the end of 2 days he was running back and forth between them with arms wide open, smiling and laughing and saying 'hi'.  What joy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Along the ride

How are you, dear readers?  I hope well!  

I've been really thinking things through lately.  You know, thinking and planning the next leg of my journey.  It's hard not to get through a massive order, complete a project I didn't think was possible a year ago, and not wonder what will happen next.  I've been thinking about if I could take on more, or if I need to re-think the whole process of my production again.  It's been a good time of soul searching, talking to people and other ceramic artists and mostly, trying to wrestle with some big questions about the how and why I do what I do, and what I want to do next.  

I guess I feel as though there is a little clock ticking in the back of my head.  It seems pretty obvious that for me to keep this pace up would mean eventual burn-out.  To expand my studio and to take on staff would move what I do into manufacturing and managing, and that's not really where my heart is either.  I really like that I have a 'studio practice' that allows me to make work that is affordable for people to own. I also love that I created a method to re-create my designs into collections, however I'm not using traditional manufacturing methods that would speed this process up.  It still takes me about 3-4 days to glaze a kiln-load of work.  Full, long days of many steps and lots of attention to little picky details.   The reality is, that it's costing me a lot more to produce what I make then it used to.  My time has become more valuable and I'm not entirely sure how to reconcile this with what will come next. 

I don't have any deadlines.  Nor do I have a guidebook.  I'm looking at different ceramic artist's careers and thinking about what I like about what they seem to have.  And then I'm shifting that into whether that fits with my work and career path.  Such an interesting and difficult career path to be on, being a maker and designer these days... there really is no 'right' way, is there?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ponies and grapes

It's the season of bounty and we are gathering, making and storing for the winter now.  My boys are at the stage where they are eating more then me and seem eternally hungry (ie asking what supper will be while they are eating lunch).  I don't buy all organic all the time (too expensive!), but am conscious of where my food comes from and how it was grown.  It's such a tricky balance where it seems like a luxury to afford what is good and wholesome for hungry boys.  And this fall I'm trying to think as creatively as we can to make healthy, relatively inexpensive meals for our family that both satisfy and nourish their growing bodies.  Part of this includes going directly to the farms or farmers to buy our food. 

 The grapes in the vineyard behind my parent's place aren't quite ready yet.  Last year was a bad year- mice had nibbled away at the roots of many of the vines and there hadn't been many grapes, so we felt like we missed eating these grapes.  This year it looks like a bumper crop, except that we need about a week of sun to ripen the rest of it.  We'll be making grape juice and then also grape jelly out of these grapes that lasts us for about a year.  It's so amazing to be able to make and bake out of what grows around us, isn't it? 

And the ponies were just an added bonus.  How cute are they. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's the friday before Thanksgiving weekend and I'm at home today, catching up on all things computer-related, with my mind spinning and my body slowly starting to decompress from the last 3 months.  It's been an intense period of production for me: I shipped and dropped off over 500 pots this week!  That's a lot of pots for my 2 hands (with a bit of help from a couple of other hands here and there) to make in my little 300 sq ft. studio, and as you can imagine, I'm asking myself how I can possibly keep this up and where I can possibly go from here. I had a really significant conversation with an amazing ceramic artist this week and am processing some much-needed insight into what a career as a ceramic artist in today's day and age can truly be.  Mind-boggling actually!

The day Steve Jobs suddenly passed away was also the day my 93.5 year old grandpa passed away.  His passing was sudden, and yet not sudden.  He had fallen and ended up in emergency.  He seemed fine and he was himself, but he had a bit of pneumonia.  No one seemed alarmed and so he had told my grandma and parents to go home, have some dinner and come back later.  And an hour or so later he had passed away.  Just like that.  Of course we all would have wished that he was surrounded by his family.  That we all had been able to say 'goodbye'.  That's the part that's hard. 

I'm due for a good relaxing weekend off from the studio but I'm anticipating being back here a little more next week, now that things have calmed down a little in the studio.  Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A day of design

I managed to get to a 'design double feature' on Saturday with Amy- we attended IDS West and then headed over to Anthropologie for the Design*Sponge book launch.  It made for a great afternoon and evening- apparently we weren't the only one's who's schedule managed to fit in both too- Janis from Pinecone Camp has some amazing photos of both events on her blog!

There were some booths that stood out to me- if you click on the photos it will link you to their websites (except for the 6th image, which I forgot to get a card from).  It was also nice to meet Zoe from Fleet Design, a ceramic artist here in the city who's path I hadn't come across yet, while also checking out a couple of furniture designers who have studios upstairs in the building from me: Kurve Studio, by Enrico Konig and Kurt Dexel. 

The Design*Sponge book launch was also a good evening connecting with people as well.  I did manage to get my book signed by Grace herself and highly recommend the book!  I ran into the duo behind Banquet who design such lovely prints, stationary and other paper goods- there really are a lot of talented people here in Vancouver!  Too many to mention without sounding like I'm name dropping- when really it was just lovely to meet them all.  It's not very often that I get out to these events with life and family and the studio keeping me so busy.  It reminded me that my 'role' as an artist and maker is more then just making and then selling my work- it's also connecting, not only with customers, but with other makers, designers, artist, photographers, and bloggers.

This week my big shipment of work leaves the studio- the packing is almost complete! I can't wait to have my studio back to 'normal'.  I'm also looking forward to taking much of Thanksgiving weekend off to celebrate birthdays and our anniversary, along with spending time with family!