29 December 2006

winter thoughts

I have been experimenting with this new technique lately and the result is relief patterns. I love the idea of the painted surface, the etched into surface and the relief surface combined (You might be seeing those pieces in the near future). I have been trying to figure out a way to make models of things (smaller more utilitarian things) that I can make molds of and cast and have them be finished pieces. As it stands now the etching process I developed and use on my work is enormously time consuming. It takes thirteen steps to get the final result. It makes it impossible to make the pieces any faster than I already do. They take the time that they do and that is that.

Lately I have been getting many requests from shops and galleries that would like to carry my work and I am suddenly having to really think before I say yes. How much can I produce myself? There is a limit to how much I can make. I do it all myself, no assistants, no interns, though I am seriously thinking it is time I do get some help. It is so exciting to be busy and that people are responding so positively to my work. On the flip side it is also very stressful when I get overwhelmed and feel like I am falling short of my commitments. This holiday season that became very clear to me. So many things can and do go wrong with ceramics. It is something that anyone who is thinking about making ceramics for a living must factor in. Problems are inevitable. It goes hand in hand with the medium.

I have been working with clay since I was twenty-two. I am now forty-two. The first ten years were spent learning and the past twelve I have been making and selling my work professionally. In so many ways I feel like I am just starting out. I really don't see a future for myself without clay. No matter where I am or what I am doing with the other parts of my life it is a given, in my mind, that I will be making ceramics. Back breaking as it is. I am just trying to get smart about it. I have so many ideas for projects and products. Many which just sit on my shelves waiting for me to give them some attention. It is not a bad thing to be this busy. It is a great thing. Truly a dream come true for me. It is so nice to be closing out this year feeling like my dreams are being realized and that I am moving into a new year with new things to consider and think about. After all isn't that what it is all about?

21 December 2006

quiet time

This is what winter and holidays are all about; drinking tea out of my newly acquired cup from this fabulous potter. Dramatic cloud filled San Francisco skylines, parties with friends , lighting some candles and slowing down. Just for a little bit. We all need it, we've all worked so very hard. Be well friends. Enjoy the holidays.

14 December 2006

stress test

The day before yesterday was a test. It was a wet rainy day and I set out to go to the local packing store to purchase an inordinate amount of packing peanuts, boxes and bubble wrap. After making my purchases and nearly fainting from the cost of everything I embarked on the next task, which was to get all of the stuff I bought into my Jetta. With deft skill and acumen (after many attempts) I managed to squeeze it all in without an inch to spare, not to mention windows to see out of. I jumped into the car, soggy and wet, proud but a little overwhelmed from the experience, only to realize that if I were to drive my car like this I just might cause an accident. My better half took over; I quickly reassessed the situation and decided to trade my twenty-four inch wide bubble wrap in for a smaller more manageable 12” wide bubble wrap. Back in the car, with windows to see out of I drove off, in the rain, towards my studio. Then came the schleping of it all into my studio, which requires loading everything into a freight elevator and hauling it down a long hallway. Once inside my dry studio I set out to start packing up all of my orders. I was happily wrapping things in bubble wrap, fortifying it with corrugated cardboard (a new trick that I learned from the lovely Whitney and Sara). All of a sudden I hear a crash, not a good sound in a ceramic studio. I turn around and a piece of cardboard that I had propped against the wall had fallen over taking one of my vases with it. This was not good. My vases have been in short supply and I can’t afford losses like these. I lifted the cardboard to evaluate the damage underneath and yup, the vase was broken. Resigned to the catastrophe, I picked up the shards one by one and then accidentally I grazed my finger over a piece of the broken vase and sliced it open. Sliced sounds so dramatic, doesn’t it? It was not a bad cut but the kind that bleeds profusely. So profusely that I got blood all over the bubble wrap. Yuk, what a mess! Once the wound was washed and covered with a band-aid (and my mess cleaned up), I continued on with my packing only to run out of tape mid way . I knew then it was time to go home. So I did.

09 December 2006

I have to confess...

that I did not send out invitations to people on my mailing list for my sale. Guess what happened? Very few people came to my sale. It is my own fault and oddly enough I am not that upset, mostly right now I am just exhausted.

Which leads me to this; Some truths about doing it all yourself ,the pitfalls and life's other distractions.

1. What do you do when you get tired, so tired that you are unable to make decisions? There is no one there who will do it for you or to help push you over that finish line. This is my greatest struggle. That extra charge that is needed at the end of a project. I become spent from the work, the creative process, the plain old labor of lifting bags of clay, loading kilns, mixing five gallon buckets of slip, casting, making, drawing, emailing, keeping up, fallowing up, loading up, packing, keeping people happy, keeping up with the Christmas madness. I barely celebrate Christmas anymore because by the time it gets here I really could care less. It's too much people. I think today was the first day in two weeks I sat down to eat. No kidding.

2. What happens when things come up that stop you in your tracks and must be paid attention to? When a tragedy hits your community and your livelihood relies on being a capitalist but the reality of making and selling poses such contrast to what is happening that it takes something out of you, that oomph, your heart. Now I know the answer to that, and I can hear you all saying "oh, but you have to keep going..." and I really do know this, but sometimes life just knocks you upside the head. We can't plan for these things and sometimes they happen the week before your sale. That's just the way it is.

3. Then as all of these things are happening, you unload your kiln only to find that your glaze has crawled and some of your pieces have that old problem of peeling that you struggled with a year and a half ago. You thought you had finally finished your orders, but no, you have to remake the pieces, work that takes you two to three weeks to complete, you have to write people and explain the problem, that you won't be able to send the complete order and then you have to start all over again. It's enough to drive anyone to madness.

4. Luckily there are always remedies and solutions to all of these dilemmas. Really I am very fortunate and I do recognize this. I guess I am frustrated for getting so tired and overwhelmed that getting a simple email out to 500 people seemed like an enormous task. I can fix that though. Guess what, I am going have another sale this week! I am going send out invitations to people to come by on Wednesday night. Though this time I'm gonna spike the cider...

Cheers! To Solutions! To loved ones! To loving and being loved and to doing the best we can!

08 December 2006

holiday sale!

My last kiln load is firing. I still have to turn my apartment into a gallery. I am running behind schedule and am realizing I have about twenty four hours to get it together. The fun is just beginning!
Come on by this Saturday if your in the area and see what I've been up to, say hello and have a little hot cider.

At last, a picture of some new work.

06 December 2006

empty space (filled with love)

Sometime around four o'clock today I heard the news that James Kim had been found and had not survived his ordeal. In the midst of the rush and hustle of trying to get things finished for my sale this weekend I looked at my table full of work and thought of nothing else other than the empty spot that was left behind by the loss of James Kim. That space must feel enormous to his family and friends. I have no pictures to post. Just an empty space to reflect and remember that there are hero's out there who make enormous sacrifices, at great risk, to ensure the well being of those they love. In my sadness I am so very deeply touched.

05 December 2006

sold out & hold out

It is official, the calendars are sold out! WOW! I can't believe it. I have about fifty backed up emails for calendar requests which I need to respond to some time in between being in the studio from morning until night. My annual Holiday Home Sale is this Saturday and I am not feeling very ready. I have orders to finish and send, an apartment to clean and set up, I have to glaze fifty seven cups and about twenty-five vases. Beni (my studio mate) and I are negotiating firing slots as he is having his sale on Saturday too. I bribe him with cookies to distract him so I can sneak firings in between his. He bribes me as well...It has been a veritable cookie fest in the studio. I've listened to more NPR in the past month than I care to admit and I have glaze crusted on my head set cord to my phone. I have to scurry off now and get a show invite together to email out to folks. Oh and if I haven't answered your email please bear with me. I am getting to things as fast as I can. Thank you everyone for buying my calendars and all your kind and generous comments. It has been such a joy coming home to such nice email. I'm not sure which gave me more pleasure, making them or sending them off to all their new homes. Some very exotic places, I might add...Ecuador, Germany, England, Sweden, France, Canada, Brazil and of course the United States. Thank you, Thank you!!

Still waiting to hear word on whether or not they have found James (the husband and father of the Kim family). Holding out with fingers crossed that it will be a happy ending.

04 December 2006

there is hope!

They found Kati Kim and her two daughters today. They are still searching for her husband James. Keep up the prayers and good thoughts to bring him home safely too.


I am praying for the safe return of Kati and her family. Kati's beautiful little store Doe, is right around the corner from where I live and is a regular stop in for me (weekly) when ever I stroll down Haight Street. She and I have had many impromptu conversations and last year she bought some of my cups. The neighborhood is a little too quiet without her here. Candles are lit and prayers are being said for their safe return.