November 05, 2009

First Thursday and Art Attack this weekend!

My studio in the Northrup King Building will be open all weekend for Art Attack, Northrup King Building's huge yearly event - over 200 artists, one location, four floors. Start your holiday shopping early with unique handmade gifts from local artists. Or, find something amazing for yourself!

First Thursday open studios • 5-9pm tonight
Art Attack Hours:
Friday, November 6th • 5-10pm
Saturday, November 7th • 12-8pm
Sunday, November 8th • noon-5pm

I hope you'll stop by! I have lots of new ornaments and some fun new seasonal plates and vases.
1500 Jackson St NE; Studio 394
Minneapolis, MN 55413 for directions and event details

September 30, 2009

First Thursday & Ornament Super Sale-October 1!

Since I'm currently up to my neck in new 2009 ornaments in various states of production, I decided it's time to do a one-night-only super sale on some of my discontinued styles of globe ornaments before I start putting the new ornaments out in November. I generally don't mark these down since they're really time-consuming to make and decorate. The clearance globes will be priced at $18-$20 depending on style (normally $36-$38). This is a great reason to stop by my studio this Thursday night (October 1) from 5-9pm for First Thursday in the Northrup King Building. Enjoy a night out with great art throughout the building (also free parking and refreshments...what more could you ask for?)

September 17, 2009

Remembering why I do this...

Sometimes the universe gives us what we need. After my last post I was really feeling sorry for myself and was seriously questioning what I'm doing. Then I unloaded my last kiln which along with a bunch of regular orders and the first of the holiday ornaments held a couple of very special pieces. When I took these out it was a huge reminder of why I do this and what's really important in life. One was a set of "lovebird" mugs one of my good friends commissioned for her nine-year anniversary. We designed them so the birds are facing each other when the mugs are displayed and we picked a flower design and colors that she loves. The other is an urn that will hold the ashes of an infant. I was honored to make such an important piece for her family. This jar came out exactly how I wanted it to--sweet and quiet but with a sense of happiness and joy, celebrating that little soul.  These two examples embody why I make the work I do. To make special, unique handmade items that connect with the people who use them.  To honor personal connections and celebrate our daily lives and relationships. 

August 31, 2009

Creative Crossroads or "Art"life Crisis?

While I usually find myself keeping my blog to more positive and newsy entries, I feel like I need to write about what I’ve been struggling with the last few weeks. So, I’ll get up on my soapbox. Whenever I complete a big production cycle and take time to regroup and get organized for the next phase of deadlines and events I always go through a period of reflection that can be positive (what worked, what sold, what I’m excited about working on) but often (due mainly to my nature) becomes negative (what didn’t work, what the heck am I doing? I need to go back to a “normal” job, etc.). I’ve been having a hard time getting myself through the sea of angst after this summer’s art fairs and I think I’m having some kind of “art”life-crisis. I’m not 100% sure why. My shows were actually pretty good, I won a couple of awards, I got lots of good feedback and had decent sales in light of the economy. But, I feel like I’m at some kind of crossroads and can’t figure out clearly which direction to go. I’ve come from a tradition of making functional work, but my current work has moved into such a decorative and time-intensive process that the model of making lots and lots of functional pieces (mugs, cereal bowls, etc) is becoming unrealistic with the amount of work that goes into each piece. As I’ve developed my illustration and decoration process, it’s become a meticulous series of steps to get the results I want. I don’t feel like I can compromise on this—it’s what makes my work special. Unfortunately (at least in this region) as long as your work is functional, no matter what kind of time has gone into the piece there is a definite ceiling on what you can sell a pot for. If it’s a mug, it should be $25. My mugs should be $100 based on time. I sell them for $36. When I raised the price to $40 this summer they stopped selling. I moved the price back. I hate to make creative decisions based on sales, but the reality is, this is my job. I need to contribute to my family’s bottom-line. I need to pay the bills. I need to save money so my kid can go to college some day and I won’t be bankrupt at retirement age. Just because I love my job and get to make beautiful things doesn’t mean I don’t deserve financial stability. My reality is this: I can only sell my pieces for as much as the market allows. I can only make so many pieces in a given amount of time. They actually are made by hand, from start to finish. If this doesn’t add up right, something has to change. So…then I start over-thinking the options. One possibility is to develop a “wholesale” or production line that is less time-intensive than my one-of-a-kind stuff.  Still, how to make enough of it and market it is opening another can of worms. Another option is to focus on moving my work farther from functional and closer to “art.”  People will spend more on a piece of art than than they will on a mug. I know other potters who have made this transition and found some success. This is a hard leap for me to make though. I’ve always made dishes and I love that connection to daily use. I really don’t know what the answer is, but I know I haven’t found the magic key yet to both making what I love and making a good living. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this!

August 28, 2009

A piece of the process

I was in the studio today getting work ready for a glaze firing and realized how much I love to see everything spread out all over the table. It also makes me realize how time intensive my glazing process has become. I thought I'd share a few steps. These pieces have already been decorated and bisque fired. Most of these dishes are for my cousin's wedding registry (lucky kids...wish I could register for myself and actually get a nice set of my own dishes at home).

Pots with stain painted applied.

Stain washed off, ready for glazing.

Can't wait to get back in and glaze these babies on Sunday, then into the kiln again. It's magic!

April 25, 2009

New work

After a week of grueling work on the new house trying to get it ready to move into next week I got a break while the floor guys came in to refinish the floors. I spend a few rushed days at the studio glazing work and loading two glaze kilns worth of work for upcoming deadlines. I unloaded the first load yesterday and was really happy with the work I pulled out. A lot of it is going to Edina Art Center next week for their Garden Party event, and some is going to Pewabic Pottery in Detriot for their June garden theme event. For these two shows I've been making lots of vases and even some flower pots! Here are a few highlights of new work. I'll unload a second load this weekend.
These plates are test pieces experimenting with using paper resist stencils to create a background layer before adding the stitching over the top. This seems like it has a lot of potential!

Here is a sampling of some new handbuilt vases for just a few flowers. Cute!

And, of course, what would a garden sale be without a few flower pots. Most of these need to go to the shows, but I think I need to make some more for myself! I don't want to let go of them. I'll be adding a few of these to my etsy store this weekend. 

April 02, 2009

Happy Spring - Fired Up Coupon!

Happy Spring! Fired Up Studios is having a special coupon promotion from now through May 31, 2009. $5 off any purchase in their pottery gallery (print it out and take it with you for the discount). I have a special place in my heart for Fired Up after renting studio space there for a number of years. I started out renting a shelf and using studio wheels, then moved up to a shared private space, then into a full space and finally outgrew that to move into my own studio in my current building. I never would have had the opportunity to grow my clay business without such a supportive environment to set up shop in. Their gallery is a hidden treasure of the Twin Cities. You'll find work by many (30+?) clay artists in diverse styles and price ranges. I always have some work there (but you can buy anyone's with the coupon). They are hoping to let new customers know about their gallery. It's also a great place to rent space and take classes. Support independent local artists and a great business! 

March 13, 2009

Loosening up

In between selling a house and buying a house, I've been kind of stalled out on making work for a few weeks. The last few days I've been back in the studio feeling pressure to make up for lost time and also feeling like it's hard to get focused again. So, in between stretches throwing pots, I've been taking breaks to do some sketching to loosen up the creative block in my head. As always, once I just start working, I suddenly start having ideas again. It feels good to get some work started and I'm hoping to have a productive month because I know I'll be consumed with house renovation in April and moving in May and then before I know it, summer shows will be here. 

March 01, 2009

Featured on Try Handmade!

My work was recently featured on Try Handmade.  Erika Jurney blogs about the work of independent artists and handmade goods to enhance your home. I love her selections and am excited to be included. Be sure to check it out...and remember to support handmade, whether by purchasing on etsy or buying directly from local artists.  

February 20, 2009

A Little Music for the Soul

I was just downloading photos from my camera and came across this photo from our holiday open studio event. My father-in-law brought over his accordian and played music outside our studio! This kind of thing makes me realize how lucky I am to have such close and supportive family. I know I couldn't be trying to make my living as an artist without them!!!!

February 12, 2009

A respite from the cold

I just unloaded a kiln full of fun pots this afternoon. A bright spot in an otherwise bleak week. I've been really taken down by a bad flu/cold this week and haven't had the energy to get much done. Trying to get my last show applications in and get some work out to galleries. One new gallery you'll see my work in this spring is the Grand Hand in St. Paul, MN. 

February 05, 2009

Think Spring

Yes. I guess I am really tired of the long Minnesota Winter. No one prepared me for how much longer the winter would feel with a toddler, either. So I'm living in denial of the mountains of grey, dirty snow by making unapologetically springlike work in the studio. I've been playing with some new imagery including new flowers, strawberries and butterflies. Here is a series of canisters that are in process. Picture one is leatherhard work drying with stitching designs impressed. Picture two shows the canisters after they've been underglazed and bisque fired. They still have to be glazed and fired again. I'll post the finished product sometime next week.  I have been making lots of new work and it's really nice to be able to do some new stuff without the pressure of immediate show deadlines. 
If you're looking for a fun evening out, tonight is First Thursday in the Northrup King Building. Studios throughout the building will be open from 5-9pm. I have a ton of new work on display, including some valentine inspired work that would make the perfect gift for your sweetheart. 
Hope you'll stop by--I'm in studio #394!

January 30, 2009

Green Love Treasury

I've been included in this sweet etsy treasury celebrating the color green. I am so sick of the Minnesota winter and ready for spring. This is a nice taste of spring, it almost makes me forget we have months of bitter weather yet to go. Sorry so few posts lately but I've been consumed by house hunting and thinking about getting our packed to the gills house ready to sell. Plus, trying to make a few nice pots. In the vein of house cleaning and spring cleaning, I've been posting some older clearance pots on my etsy page to move them on to new homes and will be adding more soon. Plus, some new work and Valentine's inspired items too!

January 16, 2009

Nonpareil blog article

Thanks to Nonpareil for blogging about my work on their site highlighting indie style. They feature different artists making amazingly cool work and it's an honor to be included. Be sure to check out the article and also take a look at the work of the other artists in their blog archive.