What I Did on my Summer Vacation

I’ve been absent, I apologize. I’ve been distracted. Life has been a bit nuttsy and I’ve been trying to keep my head above water; I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I have been making art, though. Lots and lots of pottery, knitting, quilting… but mostly pottery. Matt and I are getting married next month (that nuttsy life thing I mentioned earlier) and I decided to make mugs and bowls as wedding favors. So… that took a lot of time.

I made over a hundred. Not all were usable… I had some trouble finding the right glaze that would show the stamp. Plus I had a few that just didn’t turn out. This one, for instance…

Once I finished with favors I got really crazy and decided to make centerpieces. I thought about making small pots for succulents, which I did for a show a few years ago. They looked like this:

But then I started thinking about the logistics of this plan. We are getting married in a National Park five hours away. I’m already packing up a hundred bowls to transport. What is the plan here? Am I bringing all the pots and succulents already planted? Am I going to get there and then buy plants and a bag of dirt from Home Depot and spend the day before the wedding planting these? Also, how much is that going to cost, when each little succulent is five bucks or so and I need enough for twelve tables? And then what do I do with them? Take them to Vegas on our mini-moon?

I spent a lot of time noodling on it. For a minute I thought “fuck the centerpieces, who cares!” But then I saw this photo online:

HomArt Ceramic Succulent – Set of 4

And I decided to steal the idea! Because that’s the kind of artist I am. Here are a few of the ones I made.

Now making succulents is my new favorite thing! Which is great because I am so bad with plants I can’t even keep a cactus alive. Here is my plan. I’m going to force my friends to make a few of these at my hen party and then fire them and deliver them to their makers at the wedding as gifts… after I’m done using them as centerpieces, that is. Free labor and loving homes for the little dudes after? Um, hell yes. I don’t often feel this proud of myself but, damn. I’m a flipping genius.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve made a few other things as well. There’s also a wedding quilt which is coming together. Here are a few of the blocks I made.

This owl design is based on one of my favorite photos of Mr. Owlbertson that I took a few years ago.

To be honest, I hate quilting. I like fabric and I appreciate the artistry, but it makes my brain hurt. It’s basically just math but with bleeding.

I think I’ll stick with clay. That’s my happy place.

Pottery Show Pics

If I could make a living making things with my hands, that would make me very happy. I would sell pots and plates and knitted blankets and baked goods. I would make things all day long.

Unfortunately, I don’t make enough money with these things to even cover the cost of materials and studio time, let alone to generate a surplus. But even if I did, I want to keep paying my mortgage on my house with a yard. And I want to go to restaurants that serve Brussels sprouts on small plates cooked in some new delicious way that no one has thought to cook a Brussels sprout before, probably involving bacon and for an average cost of $3 per sprout.

So… it’s the 9-5 life for me. Until I find a way to get people to spend $100 on a hand made mug, that is.

Meanwhile, I dabble. My pottery studio had an open house event last weekend and I showed off my latest creations. Here are some photos I took of my stuff. I sold a bunch, including all the owls (which I am calling “planter buddies,” the idea being that you put them in with your plants), several bowls, and all the blue succulent planters.

This was the first time in a while that I went in and made this much new stuff for a show. It was great because I reminded myself just how much I really love working with clay. Which is great because I sold enough stuff that now I need to get back in to the studio to start making Christmas presents.

Fingers Crossed

I learned the first time I tried pottery as a university student in 1999 that it isn’t a good idea to get attached to an outcome once something goes in the kiln. You’ve invested a lot of time, all spent envisioning a final product. So it feels impossible to let that go when the kiln lid lowers. But you must. You must, or you will get your heart broken.

I say I “learned” this, but it isn’t a lesson that sticks well. I’ve learned it the hard way hundreds of times now, it seems. And yet, I’m sitting here today, telling myself to at least lower my expectations if I can’t let them go entirely.

Here are a few in process photos two bowls which are currently in the kiln. Despite my better instincts, I love them so much! Which means they will die a sad cracked death at the hands of the kiln gods, if they haven’t already.

Good luck, bowl babies! I hope you can come home so I can wrap you up and put you under the Christmas tree! But if you can’t, I’ll understand. I’ll cry a bucket. But I’ll understand.

UPDATE: One pot did spectacularly self destruct, unfortunately. But the other lived and is with a new home, now.

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