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Popping the question

I was out of my booth at Silverton, stretching my legs, but I could have heard it at any art fair, anywhere.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Please, artists, don't do this. I know, you want to engage with browsers, but you don't want to make them feel, I don't know, pressured. So you toss out this phrase, and wait for them to make the next move.

Nine times out of ten, they won't. Why should they? It's not their job to make your job--selling your art--easy. And even the ones who might have a question, might not ask it for fear of sounding stupid. It's hard to speak up when you don't know enough to formulate a sensible question. 

So what should you do? Well, say hello, first. Ask how they're doing. If they answer in more than monosyllables, they probably aren't averse to having a conversation, so start one. Volunteer information. Tell how your art is made, or tell what inspires you, or tell what got you into the medium in the first place. It doesn't have to be a monologue--one or two sentences are plenty. Then give them a chance to respond.

It'll feel awkward, at first. You should probably prepare a list of talking points before the show, mix and match them so you don't feel like you're giving the same speech over and over. (Though it probably doesn't matter if you do. They'll only hear it once, even if you (and your neighbor) hear it ad nauseum. And the neighbor probably has their own speech prepared, that you'll learn so well that you can pitch it for them while they're on a bathroom break.

(This is not a bad thing.)

Some of mine:

I make everything in the booth on the potter's wheel, and paint it all freehand. No stencils, no decals, no shortcuts.

Everything is individually hand-painted; even the things I do in multiples are one-of-a-kind.

When I first started out, I did a lot of floral patterns, but really came into my own when I started painting animals.

Yes, I have somewhere around a hundred different patterns. People keep asking for new patterns, and I keep saying, Hmm, that sounds fun.

The clay is stoneware, fired in a 50 cubic foot gas kiln. The floor of the kiln and door are on tracks, so we can roll them out for loading, back in to fire.

I do every drawing with brushes I make myself, from squirrel tail. The line quality of the drawings, the way lines go from thin to thick in a single stroke? That comes from the long, flexible tip. (If pursue, I'll bring up the road-kill thing.)

(And only occasionally, because everyone says it) My pottery is lead-free, and oven-, dishwasher- and micro-wave safe.

Over time, I try out new turns of phrase. I dropped "thrown on the wheel", because it's not necessarily a familiar verb. I started using "freehand" this spring to describe the painting, and I like the sound. 

So start a conversation. It'll make time in your booth go so much faster, and who knows, you might even sell something.

Kid's stuff

Silverton has a lot of activities for kids. Face painting, of course, but also hat-making, hands-on soap carving, demonstrations by whittlers and painters and potters. And a bunch of different face cutouts to photograph yourself with. American Gothic, of course, and the Mona Lisa, but also Munch's The Scream and a few less, well, classical choices.

Which is how Dora got her longtime wish, to be a Disney Princess.

Westward ho!

Day one of the Silverton Fine Arts Festival, and the booth seems full of wild west critters.

Numbers game

Had a bit of confusion Friday afternoon as we were setting up for Silverton Fine Arts Festival. We'd gotten the booth set up, the shelves leveled, shimmed and staked, a two-hour job, as the ground is wildly irregular, even in the level-ish spaces. I was just lifting boxes of pots out of the van, when a show staffer came by with another vendor, trying to find her space. She was assigned booth 88, right next to our 87, but someone was already set up there. 89 and 90 were also filled, so they looked around for somewhere to stuff in an extra booth--not an impossibility with as loose a layout as the show features.

They eventually settled on space 29-and-a-half, and the vendor, Angela, started moving in her booth and tables. At which point, the staffer announced that I'd been given the wrong booth; according to the program, I was to be in booth 86.

I knew this wasn't right. I'd gotten an email with booth 87. My move-in envelope said booth 87. The alphabetical list of artists in the program said I was in booth 87.

Turns out, we were both right. In the booth-by-artists list, I was in 87. In the booth-by-numbers list, I had 86. Also in the Artist's Thumbnails section, with name, number and a photo of our work. And it wasn't just me. Angela had two numbers; Darcy, in 88, had two numbers. I don't know how far the mix-up went, but clearly, somebody needed to work on their Excel skills. Or proofreading skills. Possibly both.

As it happens, nobody had set up yet in 86. Did I want to move my booth, she asked? Remember, I'd just spent two-hours on my knees with a level, various size shim blocks, 400-penny spikes and zip ties, so I might have declined a little, er, forcefully. Fortunately, Angela is a friend of ours from Saturday Market, and was more than happy to be our neighbor.

The fact that we bring cookies probably didn't hurt.

Thundering herd



I'm so glad that Brontosaurus [Greek: Thunder lizard] has been revived as a legitimate dinosaur genus! Apatosaurus just never had the same ring.

Elephantiasis

Had a run on elephant banks, the last few weeks, so I decided it was time to rebuild the herd. As usual, I forget to take pics in the initial, messy stages. sigh.


Under construction

Back when I joined Club Mud, in 1998, I had what was called a full-space membership: key holder access to the facility, and a private shelf unit for storage that was four feet wide, two feet deep, floor to ceiling.

I very quickly discovered it wasn't enough. I was producing a lot of pots, needed room to store glazes and tools and bisque. Admittedly, I wasn't making (and selling) nearly as much as I do today, but it was still a tight squeeze. So I was happy to pay a little extra for a semi-private space, an alcove between the main shop and the kitchen area, when one opened up a few years later. There were two huge shelf units, one three shelves wide, one four, and enough room to squeeze in a tiny wedging table and my Pacifica potter's wheel. It got a little stuffy on firing days--for some reason, stale air collected in there--but opening a door and turning on a fan helped immensely.

Then we bought a house. I tore up the rug in the former family room, covered the walls with washable panels, built a big shelf unit. Bought a used electric kiln from a potter in Portland, and when my former boss sold his pottery business, I went up to Cheshire to buy a bunch of ware boards and throwing bats, and wound up also bringing home his Soldner electric potter's wheel.

So the back half of my space at Club Mud fell into disuse. The shelves were full of stuff from when I moved in, but rarely any current work, as it was so hard to get things in and out of the constricted space. Eventually, I loaned the Pacifica to a new member of the club to use in her shared space and just stacked boxes of bisque on the floor.

This last winter, I took a hard look at the space. On firing days, when I didn't have anything else to do, I went through all the old boxes, threw out a bunch of stuff. Decided that, if I dismantled the back shelf unit and replaced with a standard full-space rack, there'd be room for another potter in there. Since Nicole was currently throwing with my wheel on her front porch, I decided to try and get it ready for occupancy before the rainy season.

The first stage was cleaning up. There was a lot of clay on the walls, splashed from when I was still throwing pots there. After a good scrub, I painted everything with a gallon of recycled paint I picked up at BRING. I took out the pipe shelf supports and stowed them in the attic, took down the two-by-four uprights and took them home. Scrubbed 20 years worth of dust off the floor.

With the help of about six bucks worth of one-by-two and a box of self-tapping screws, I converted the uprights into sides of a slide-in shelf unit, then took them down to install in the corner. I replaced the ceiling light fixture with an outlet and hung and plugged in an LED shop light. I still need to run a contractor-grade power strip (15 foot cord) along the back so Nicole can plug in the wheel, but we should be ready for occupancy after my next firing.

Stealth

Took an order from Denise's cousin while we were in Seattle, for some stealth wine cups. Her neighborhood has started hosting block parties on a newly established park zone, and alcoholic beverages are frowned on, so Di wants some opaque, stemless wine cups. Patterns will be birds that visit her feeders: flicker, chickadee, junco, hummingbird. Here's my first attempt at the form.

Naptivity

Sold this lovely little sleeping fox bowl at Market, but couldn't let it go until I took a picture. Isn't she sweet?