Sunday, October 23, 2011

Potting Frenzy for UMC prep

Come check out my latest pottery this November!

United Maine Craftsmen Show

at the Augusta Civic Center
November 12-13, 2011
(Link to show info)
click on the Augusta Show "details" for more info.

Cobscook Pottery & Fiber Arts Annual Holiday Sale
November 18-20, 2011
Lubec, Maine
pottery, sculpture, weaving, jewelry
(Fri. 3:00-7:00, Sat. 10:00-5:00, Sun. 12:00-4:00)
Refreshments, holiday cheer, raffle, ready-to-gift packaging!

Serving bowls, honey pots, and rice bowls waiting to be bisque fired.

A hodge podge of bisqueware awaiting glaze.
(sake bottles, rice bowls, tea bowls, tumblers)

Bello, our beautiful 14-pound feline elder.

We long for these moments...sweet, soft, purring, napping Bouli. This is NOT how we usually see her, though!!!! Quiet moments are rare. She is usually 100% feisty-ness..... tearing up the house, breaking things, and tormenting Bello!

No Bouli, you are not being knighted by King Bello.
He is merely reminding you who is really in charge in this house.

Furry pantaloon-clad Bouli chases-down Bello and presents to him her best sumo-wrestling moves.

Bouli walking across greenware platters, moving toward the newly thrown fragile wet vases.....
Nothing is safe in the pottery cave when she is around!

It has been about five weeks of potting frenzy in prep for the United Maine Craftsmen show. Lest a few mug handles and trimming of three vases/lids, I have completed the heavy-duty chore of hours-on-end of wet work. Against all seasoned-potter advice, I worked at the wheel for ten hour stretches to meet goal. My list of "to-do" was much longer but yesterday I finally had to throw in the towel and tell myself that I need to step back from the production work and move the focus more fully into my sculpture. The next three weeks will still be full of mega amounts of glazing and a firing schedule like no other in the past with three more bisque loads and up to eight glaze fires. The glazing, though tedious, is not as physical as the potting and is less brain-work. I will be able to walk away from the glazing table for long stretches and not worry about losing a piece. When creating the wet work, I need to adhere to the clay's drying schedule: add a handle or trim at just-the-right-time. The forming part of the process is picky and certain steps must be completed at precise moments or else the piece is lost.

All this pottery is not only for the United Maine Craftsmen show in Augusta, but also for my annual open-studio holiday sale here in Lubec. I normally hold that sale the weekend of veteran's day, but due to the UMC show in Augusta, I bumped it back a week to November 18-20. That's two major back-to-back selling events that I need adequate inventory for.

Between teaching, my MFA work, and the pottery production, I have not had spare time. The work schedule begins upon waking and ends when supper and bedtime are near. When I get home from my teaching job at school, I change into pottery duds and head into the "cave".

Pottery is one of those jobs that does not fall within an eight hour day or 5-day a week work schedule. When relied upon as an income, it's serious business. The schedule ebbs and flows with the seasons. Spring is for summer prep, then summer is extremely hectic with tourist season, and autumn is busy with holiday sales prep. The "down-time", if such a thing exists, is January and February.

I sometimes think people have a hard time understanding that pottery is work, and rather, think of what I do as more of a hobby. There is this stereotype romantic version of potters who are back-to-the-earth hippies playing with mud in a very relaxed nonchalant sort of manner. My studio time is not that image. It is a job for me, and though I love that I am able to work with my hands with a material that I connect so fully with, there are parts of the process that I wouldn't mind skipping. I don't like reclaiming clay and wedging, nor do I enjoy glazing, cleaning the studio, or making mug handles. I DO LOVE throwing at the wheel, handbuilding, carving, and trimming. But add to my "dislike list" dealing with taxes, insurance, supply orders, and anything related to paperwork. I am a one-woman-business playing all the roles: designer, fabricator, marketer, bookkeeper, delivery person, maintenance, inventory, and janitorial specialist.

All said and done, I am so grateful that pottery is a skill that I have. I am able to do something that is such a part of my heart and soul and share it with others. I can think of no better job than one that is built around my passion and slightly neurotic obsession with clay.

I think back often to when I first started blogging. I made the statement that I would never be a production potter. Such irony that I am now doing that on a small-scale level. I didn't think that I would enjoy production work, but I am discovering that I really do enjoy it. There is this satisfaction that I feel when I see multiples of an item lining the shelves. I watched a squirrel storing nuts a while back and thought that I am like that squirrel. I feel a sense of safety, and accomplishment, when I see that there are plenty of bowls or mini vases. I am like the bear, too, preparing in advance for my winter hibernation. There is lots to be done before the snow flies!

There is not much else to report. I have been nose to the grindstone with deadlines all around me and it is crucial, for the moment, that I remain focused. I am still feeling my way around being a part-time teacher and relying more heavily on my job as a potter. MFA semester is in full swing and I need to be ready for end-of-semester presentations in December and must also keep focused on that. Everything that I am doing now lays the groundwork for where I will be down the road on this incredible life journey. It is a head-spinning time with all the multi-tasking, but it is all meaningful.

On the homefront, it is cat-mania. Bello had a rough spell a while back. He seemed to be severely depressed, losing weight, showing some physical symptoms of unhealthiness. He was hissing and growling at me and seeming despondent. Bouli's presence has turned his world upside down. Until her arrival, he had all of my attention. I have started spending special alone-time with him most nights in his "safe-space" out of Bouli's reach. Bello is starting to return to his old self again and is starting to stand up for himself more. Bouli likes to chase him and tries to play, but he usually wants nothing to do with her. He is starting to jump in my lap again, cow Bouli down off the bed once in a while, and in general is trying to reclaim his time as King Kitty. Until recently, he would run away from Bouli growling and begging to be let outside. The past couple weeks, though, he stands his ground, growls at her, and she most times will walk away after a few attempts to pounce at him. I am still holding out for them to be best pals at some point.

Sunny Sunday - and I am heading down into the dark cave. I have eight tankard handles to attach, and three vases to trim with adorned lids. After that- I switch into cognitive mode and work up sketches for a new sculpture. I have been seeing images in minds-eye that intrigue me though I haven't been able to put concept with them beyond the form that is calling to me. Will see what happenes. Sometimes I just need to jump in and create....and do the figuring-out later on.

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