2011 has been a year like no other! Check out how my workspace has gone from nothin' to somethin' through our ongoing remodel project and how the studio has developed in less than a year.
Scan through the year below or narrow your search by season to the right. --->
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All those long days and sleepless nights paid off because the Des Moines Arts Festival was a major success! It turned out to be a beautiful weekend despite the gloomy forcasts. We only encountered a few sprinkles on Friday morning while unloading the car and then again on Sunday evening while loading up the car for the final time. It might have been a different story had we had the storm roll through the area that was expected, but luckily it all worked out swell.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to showcase what I have been working on. It was an amazing weekend. For as exhausting as those three full days were, I enjoyed every minute of it--even the stressful set up on the first day. From the conversations with visitors and other artists to the required demonstration and the unexpected amount of sales--it was all good!
5 weeks ago, I sat down and said, "okay, I have 10 weeks until the Des Moines Arts Festival. Let's do this!" Thinking about the long list of things to do in that time, I tried to plan accordingly.
In a fantasy world, I figured I could manage one firing per week if I was a full time potter. This would have included one week to get the kiln set up and fired with just posts and shelves as recommended (and required for waranty purposes) by the manufacturer, and then several bisque firings, a glaze test firing, a couple 'real' glaze firings, and a wood firing in Minnesota at Jorgenson Pottery.
But alas! In reality, I have a day job which translates to just a couple productive days per week. Fortunately, the mantra "all in good time" has been ringing in my ears for more than a year, so I've learned not to get too discouraged with slow progress.
There HAS been progress though! The kiln is firing to bisque as the rain pitter patters outside today. Inside the kiln is a slip casted turtle (our mascot?) from Paintin' Place Ceramics and plenty of test tiles and other goodies to keep it company (did I mention that I'll be working with two new clays since the most local supplier doesn't carry my favorite Standard #266?).
With five weeks to go, the pressure is on! I'll be working less in Des Moines and surely keeping busy in the shop, making as much work as I can, mixing glazes I tested in Virginia, and firing as much as possible--only 8 more to go to get back on schedule as "planned"!
Earlier this month, we made a trip to Omaha to pick up the kiln. It was quite an exciting feeling just to have it in the shop, but I was only able to look at it while I waited for a couple of weeks to actually set it up.
Now, we are getting a little closer to actually firing it! Uncle Mark came out earlier this week to hook up the electrical--a task that seemed a lot larger than it actually was once we got started. This lit a fire under our behinds and we bought some quikrete the next day to make a step-up from the wood flooring.
Once that cures completely, we can move the kiln back to its spot in the corner and get the enviroVent set up. Hopefully that will be just as smooth as the other steps in this long process, but time will tell!
Soon to come: a test firing with just shelves and posts (as suggested by the kiln manual). Time is ticking: 9 more weeks until the Des Moines Arts Festival!
A friend forwarded me an Etsy link, sharing an artist working in a similar style as me. Not only was it great to see what someone else is doing with slabs and lace, but it was also helpful in another way: realizing that Etsy might be a great way to kill two birds with one stone!
I have several friends getting married this year, all interested in my pottery as either bridal party gifts, guest gifts, or personal belongings. So while I can fulfill the first two of those requests in a typical commission format, the last request seemed a bit more tricky. Not anymore!
A lot of people think of the typical gift registry as a wishlist to places like Target for towels and small appliances. But why not register via an Etsy shop? Here is an example of a registry for plates and bowls (similar to my style!). DEFINITELY food for thought! So, by the end of the summer, expect to see an Etsy shop set up with pieces for a few of my soon to be newly wed friends! I picture the traditional plate set as well as cups, mugs, platters, napkin rings, picture frames, and whatever else may be requested.
Today was the work session for this year's Emerging Iowa Artists for the 2011 Des Moines Arts Festival, meant as an introduction to participating in festivals as well as an informational meeting for the Des Moines Arts Festival (important times and other good-to-know bits of information).
So, my To Do/Think About List:
- I just ordered 200 business cards, apparently I will need at least 500 to pass out to folks with the intention of following up at a later date.
- The booths are set up with peg boards: not very attractive if NOT covered up/used... so, keyhole installation??
- Overall booth set up could lead to an invitation back next year as well as a $1000 prize for EIA Best in Show. I better get cracking not only making things to sell, but also creating a kick-ass booth...
Below are a few pictures that caught my eye when searching for some inspiration and direction in this initial brainstorming of my booth via Google Image Search.
From the beginning, we knew that our studio would be part woodshop, part clay studio, and hopefully one day, part artisan consignment shop. Over the past few days, we have had a taste of the balancing act to be faced with such a shared space. Fortunately, it came at a time before the kiln and crazy pre-art festival production.
Tom loves his granny dearly and when told her time was near, he took on the amazing challenge of building her casket. In just a few days, a stack of wood became a box, and with every nail and brush stroke, it slowly transformed into a beautiful casket.
Tom and I made a trip out to Omaha on Friday to check out Paintin Place Ceramics. Their name pretty much says it all: they're a big paint your own ceramics place (with a massive inventory of molds to chose from). While not exactly what I'm in to, they have quite an impressive set up and are a distributor for anything clay related and the closest of such thing to Stuart.
So, a Skutt Kiln, Minnesota Clay, glaze ingredients, and a few other miscellaneous studio start up equipment/tools are on the order form. With a $1,000 down payment, we are ready to roll! In about a week or so, we'll make the trip out again, with a checkbook to pick up the tab and a truck ready for haulin!
I am signed up for a workshop at CASA (Creative Artist Studios of Ames) this coming weekend. Friday evening will be the mixing portion of the workshop and Saturday morning and afternoon will be the colorant adding and application portion of the workshop.
I am always up for learning something new, but this particular opportunity is exciting because it marks the first of many clay functions for me in IOWA. Of course, I am still in the process of getting the studio up and going, but hopefully being in a shared space with new information will help jump start my own production in my own space.
In search of some inspiration to make a few vessels to take to the workshop (to practice terra sig application techniques), I came across Joseph Pintz's work at iconceramics.com. He has an interesting philosophy and style. I especially like his 'troughs'. I made a few pinch pots and shall leave it at that for now--tests don't need to be anything fancy, right?
I do believe I will be doing a lot of research in the coming year. Hopefully this will not only involve web searches, but also meet and greets of other local artists...
I have been wanting to do this for a few months now, knowing full well that there is no way I can pay for a kiln and other studio equipment and supplies all by myself. I am very excited to offer this opportunity for pottery in exchange for financial support.
A copy of the letter/e-mail I am sending out to everyone I know is on the main CSK page. Give her a read through for more information. Hopefully these efforts will generate enough money to feel more comfortable with my upcoming kiln purchase!