Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hottest Year on Record

They say because of global warming this going to be the hottest year on record. We've put together a damn hot May for Pinecroft Centre of the Arts. I took a year hiatus from organizing the courses to get my life on track with my new home and studio.
I'm thrilled with our line up and can't wait to spend the month of May surrounded by these awesome makers and the potters they will attract.
I'm posting them here. They will be up on the Pinecroft website on Monday but I just wanted to get this out to y'all.
There is a big house available to house the participants. This is going to be an awesome year. I can just feel it in my bones.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cranky Love

I lined up the trays outta my last firing. Since I now have a basement workshop and no retail location the bulk of my work has to be wholesaled. This puts a whole new prospective on pricing. You’re going to get 50% of the price when you sell outright and 60% on consignment. I sell to one awesome gallery that is 70/30. I ain’t telling ya cause I want to keep that one for myself. Selling wholesale is an eye opener on pricing. If many of the people selling their work had to pay a mortgage, car payments, etc, etc they would understand that a retail price of  $12 for  mugs is nonsense.
My friend Don Ross told me you need a hydraulic press to make a living at selling pots wholesale. Making them slowly on a wheel and firing periodically just doesn’t add up.
I was having memories of Jingdezhen, China today.  80,000 people in that city involved in clay related occupations. Do you really think you can compete with the incredible production of China? Why would you want to? An 80 cent mug at Ikea makes the $6 wholesale on a $12 mug look like a fortune.
On my way back to the dorm from the studio in Jingdezhen I would pass a wooded area. All the trees were swaying. But they weren’t trees. They were young couples hanging on to each other in the dark and swaying. They had nowhere else to go. They were hanging on to love. Hang on to your love of making pots. Don’t crank em out! Love them out!  If you crank em out for little money you’ll make cranky loved pots. Cranky love is no kind of love at all!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Location, location, location

We all know the 3 rules of real estate- location, location, location. Well there is one location that should be the most important and the only one you can't leave behind- your body! Sadly I've left three good pottery locations behind but I carried this body with me to each one. I let myself go for awhile but that was 25 lbs ago. I've pretty well walked or ran since I was 27 when I was encouraged by the physical education teacher where I taught. As it turned out I had good lung capacity and could run the distances.
Today I created the 3 rules of exercise on this cold snowy winter day in the frozen north- layers, layers, layers. I had 6 layers on my top. Probably a bit of over kill as I was sweating when I got back.
We think as potters we get fitness from lifting clay, loading kilns, etc, etc. We don't! We mostly stand around or sit on our duffs. I run walk 2.5 k each morning. It takes about half an hour for the exercise and another 1/2 hour for the dressing, undressing, and shower. So it's an hour. It's easy to get up in the morning and say oh shit I've got too much to do! Oh shit, the plumber will be here at 9. Oh shit, it's snowing! Oh double shit, it's snowing and windy. Oh shit I got in late last night and had one too many glasses of wine.  I can think of a dozen oh shit's that would stop me each morning. Truth is I feel better when I drag my butt out and put in the time. Location, location, location!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

It beats robbin the liquor store!

I have a whole line up of those easy money trays in carbon trap shino with red, blue and yeller accents.  They sell well and they are a pretty nice gift to give. I like decorating them and I must admit they have been coming out of the kiln pretty nicely.  Hey, it beats robbin' the liquor store!
Today was my first attempt with the light set up Frans made for me. I screwed up the colour balance on today’s shots but like all things in this bizz it’s a learning curve. I like the colour best when I use Preview on my Mac to make them black and white.

I felt like I’ve been taking one step forward and two back this week with all kinds of starts on new projects. My uncle Jim used to say throwing represented about 10% of the time a potter spends in the pottery. I made 12 cups today. I should be embarrassed to tell ya.  They used to say life was like photography. You have to have negatives to develop. Digital photography is so much

easier.  How come life isn’t?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Too Many Non Paying Jobs

Mrs. Grass Keeper is not the first to tell me that I have too many non paying jobs. I figure since she has managed the Grass so well over the years I ought to listen. She said why don’t you post some good pictures of your finished work on your blog instead of casual shots on the kitchen table or on the glaze table? When Mrs. Grass Keeper said this I knew exactly who to call for advice and help.  I called my friend and former student, ex-cop, graphic designer/photographer, potter Franssie Rood. Frans sent me pics of the setup and I went dah, I mean dah. He said I’ll make it be at your house and install it. That my friends is a 2 hour drive away. Frans is handy. I’m good looking! Frans put this set up together in my basement that will be permanent. He is also thrifty and we spray painted the graduated backdrop. The fan is not part of the photo setup but to dry the  matt finish Tremclad paint. I’ll try it out tomorrow. Today was too hectic painting the kitchen, hanging a closet door, packing and shipping a pot for a show,  etc, etc. You know man work. It is never done!
Thank you Mrs. Grass Keeper for the passive aggressive nature of your prompting. Your commission cheque on the first pot I sell is in the mail. Thank you Franssie for being there for me once again. There are two kinds of people in this world- givers and takers. You my friend are of the former .

You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it! It helps when you have the backing of wonderful friends. I am indeed grateful!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ash to the wall

Once in another life I taught Adult Education. I taught people that had no received their Grade 12 and they were there to finally achieve it. They were awesome people that all had real stories. They had all survived what many would have not.   I taught a huge First Nation's guy that I called Hoss. He was big like Hoss Cartwright from the show Ponderosa. He once put his arm around me and said "Tony, prison is no place for a small man like you!"  I answered" Yes, Hoss I'll take that under advisement. So no orange jumpsuit for me.  Hoss like you advised me keep your ash to the wall.
I flipped the tiles over and instead of showing the ash on the back splash I'm liking these wad comets on my bottom. There is no ash but great movement of the flame around the wads. These tiles were stacked 8 high and fired in the flue of the bourry box wood fired kiln. The gray will go nicely with the paint I picked out. I know they will be hard to clean. I know the surface will be bumpy. I know, I know. I like visual function over function. I can put up with all kinds of things my Amish friend's wife could not. I will enjoy cleaning the counter. I'm trying to make housework enjoyable !

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hamburger budget

I'm redoing my kitchen. I went out this aft to pick out chalk paint for my kitchen cupboards after spending the morning making those slab trays to pay the bills. I going to paint the cupboards gray and then put a coat of antique white over top and rub the edges to reveal the gray.  I was thinking I'd love to get a cement counter or maybe granite but I got filet mignon taste and a hamburger budget. I had helped make some tiles and made a extrusion die for some counter edging for my Amish friend Franz. His wife is a bit of a neat freak and didn't like the wood fired surfaces of the tiles in the wood kiln. I went to see Franz and got the tiles back. I am going to tile my counter with these tiles. I might contact my friend Mary Philpott to add a few colourful diddies to the bunch. I love her crows!! Maybe a rabbit too since that is what I am. A rabbit that loves making his warren his home.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Korean Invasion

My soul brothers are coming to Toronto for The Fusion Conference. Do not miss these 5 amazing super humans. I say superhuman because what I witnessed in Korea was not only superb and meticulous craftsmanship but combine that with amazing artistry. The visual and hand skills are beyond comprehension. On top of it all they are the nicest human beings you will ever encounter (next to me of course!) That was a joke as I don't even measure on that scale of human decency.
My friend Don Ross and I will be pressing green ware for all the participants to work on. The masters will be having breakout sessions for each skill they are teaching. You will be given a plate, cup, tile etc  to use the Korean tools and techniques that they demonstrate. There will be a Korean tea ceremony presented to you by their lovely partners/wives. This is a HUGE leap of faith for Fusion and I am super excited that this conference will be one of the best ever in their amazing 40+ years of bringing the best to Canada. Hey America with the sagging Loonie this should be a must do. Did I mention that the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art is having an opening of their works, The Royal Ontario Museum with the largest collection of Asian Ceramics in North America is directly across the road, the newly opened Aga Khan Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, OCADU, Harbourfront, Sheridan are all within shouting distance.
Guaranteed to blow your minds!
See ya there. I really can't wait to be united with my brothers.
Welcome to North America- Korea- we love you!

Here's your contact. Sign up ASAP.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Worn but not out!

This is the keyboard of my trusty ole MacBook Pro. It has travelled every where with me. It has been in mudpits around the globe.  I guess I hit the keys pretty hard with my nails as the letters are disappearing. If I had a penny for every reader I’ve had since starting this blog I’d be able to buy my used Honda Element or maybe get my stove top range replaced with a nice gas one.  To date there has been 597, 567 page views.
I even taught high school typing once in another life so I don’t do the poke and peck style typing. I remember to this date the fear I had when I stood up in front of the class and rattled off something on an old IBM Selectric Typewriter. I didn’t know how to type but they couldn’t see the ske8ej.sjdi3kwmdieyglt w on the page.  I tore the page out, riped it up and threw it in the garbage and told them I wanted them to type like that. I was only one exercise ahead of the class for an entire semester.  Never let them know you’re a bull shitter.
I can’t imagine trading in my old friend Mac. He does everything I can think to do with him. Well there are some things I need to update. Mac can do it but I just don’t know how and  I find ways to survive without making the changes.  I really don’t miss my IBM Selectric and the White Off I used to have to use for corrections. This is one instance where I'll go with silver. 
Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver

The other is gold