Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fall...ing for pottery



Hello Everyone!

Been a month and a half or so since I have written. In that time I have gotten back to work full time at school, which has greatly impacted my ability to do pottery. Work is going well, I enjoy working with my students, but my pottery must take a back seat at this point.

It is frustrating, to a degree, to not throw as much. I find that I tend to be busy so I try and squeeze in time in the evenings or some on the weekends to get pieces made. I am often tired after work, so my idealistic "I will throw some pottery when I get home from work" is a challenge to follow through with some times. It is even harder to make mugs - the process of making mugs requires me to throw the main piece and let it dry. But it can only partially dry enough so that it can be held - it still needs to be malleable. Then I add the handle and continue to let it dry. My issue is that where I am throwing infrequently, I tend to not have two days back to back to throw the piece and the next to add a handle. But I make it work.

I had two shows this fall so far. I find that I have two different caliber of shows I attend now - a "Typical" craft fair that costs $25/30 to attend, or a large, typically 2 day fair that costs $100+ to attend. So I need to remind myself sometimes which I am attending, and what the expectation is then - I have different expectations for how many pieces I will sell at a small craft fair versus a large one.

So this fall I have attended two fairs - the first was a smaller, one day /small fee fair in Ellsworth. It went decent -  I sold what I expected. It was nice because Dave came with me for the show so I had someone there to help, and also his mother had a table beside us, she was selling her jewelry. So overall it was nice because there were people nearby to spend time with :)

I had a second show this Fall, at UMaine for Homecoming. This was a larger show, a two day/higher cost show. Actually it was the most expensive show I have paid to attend, to date at least in my pottery outings. And overall I was disappointed. I assumed (incorrectly) that since it was so expensive that I would make that much more - I expected to have upwards of 50+ sales, and was very disappointed to walk away with only 22 sales. So i made just under half of what I had expected. So yes, I made sales, but at times it can be emotionally frustrating to put an entire weekends work/time in, and leave feeling defeated and like it was unsuccessful. YES, overall it was a success - i came out ahead (where several vendors did not, so I feel like a jerk being down about it) but It is hard when the outcome does not align with the goal/expectation.

Some positives that I have observed  - I am starting to grow a fanbase, which is awesome and strange! I have had some repeat customers - people who have one or two mugs, and now want a third, things like that! It is an awesome feeling. Or to attend a fair or show and have someone come up and say, "Oh good, I was hoping you would be here"  - it is such an awesome and great feeling, makes the entire process seem worth while! I hope that things like that continue to happen :)

I have a small custom order I need to get home and work on - I just received the marbling stain in the mail yesterday, so now I can get to work on the pieces - 4 yellow and blue marbled mugs. I am excited to get working on it - I find as time goes on I really, REALLY love making my marbled pieces - I just enjoy the mystery of how the piece is going to unfold - how will the marbling show itself. It is a lot of fun.

I have a couple more craft fairs this winter. I think I had assumed that the UMaine show would have a lot of Christmas sales, but I think i was a little early since it is just October, so we will see how the rest of my shows go. I have another show in a week and a half - a smaller show that Donna (Dave's Mom) signed us up for though Brewer High School. She had heard really positive things about the show, so I have my fingers crossed that it goes well! After that I have a show scheduled right after Thanksgiving - down on the island. Now, the island is where I am from, so that might contribute to my success there. Last year I paid the fee for a one day/small fair, and ended up selling way more than expected. I am hopeful that it can be just as successful this winter! :) And then after that, two weeks before Christmas I am setting up in the Bangor Mall for a 2 day fair. I am hopeful that this will also go well.

Overall I have found this year to be a success - I am happy with how it has gone, and am hoping that the final couple of shows for the year really ends on a positive note. :) Eventually I would like to get a new wheel and possibly a new kiln, and am liking the idea of maybe opening a small shop in the summers - we will see :) But with all that, only time will tell!

Anywho, if you have any thoughts or questions do not hesitate to ask!! :D








Sunday, August 27, 2017

End of Summer...



Hey everyone!

For anyone who does not know, my full time/day job is as a school social worker in the Lincoln school system. Today is officially my last day of summer, as I head back to the schools tomorrow for teacher orientation. I am sad to see summer gone, as would be expected. At the same time, I am looking forward to what is in store for this fall/winter with pottery :: this is really the beginning of a busy season for me, so that is a fun and exciting time for me as an artist!

The summer ended on a decent note :: I did GREAT at the Bucksport Bay Festival in July. I followed that up in August with a 2 day festival in Machias. I found that I struggled slightly there - it was a combination of things I believe - One, it poured the first day, which is typically the bigger sale day. And, in fact even with the rain I sold OVER twice as much pottery Saturday as I did Sunday, which was a beautiful day weather wise. I just found that people Sunday were looking and not buying, at least not from me. I also found that there was more competition - there were 2 other individuals selling pottery within striking distance of where my booth was. And while their pottery was VERY different from mine (think traditional pottery; traditional colors) I do believe this could have had an impact on my sales. I had headed into the weekend really hoping to do just as well as I had at the Bucksport Festival. To be fair, I think that if the weather had cooperated I would have likely done just as well, but was left feeling a little let down with the progress. Still, I plan to try it again next year and see how it turns out :)

So what is NEXT on the list for Red Sunset Ceramics? Well I have very little down time planned. I have a one day craft fair in Ellsworth scheduled for later this month - the 23rd of September. Then that is followed up mid October with a 2 day larger craft faira t the University of Maine. Then a smaller craft fair at the end of October, and one at the end of November. And there is a chance I may add in a couple other craft fairs as well as the holidays get closer - since that is a fairly large selling season :)

Another new situation for me is that I was contacted to have some of my pottery put into a shop in downtown Ellsworth - I actually head out tomorrow after work to go drop a shipment of 15 pieces off. I am hopeful that it can be a good step for me to get my items in stores more consistently - fingers crossed that it is a good option for me! :) I was also approached about going into a shop in Bangor as well, but am still in the process of seeing if this is going to occur  - if it does I will keep you posted! :)

Beyond the specifics of WHERE I am going to be, I have been having fun trying to better present and organize my shows. The last two larger shows i have done I have attempted to color coordinate my works - which seems to go over well and people appreciate! :) I've now got to focus on filling in the bare spots that were sold off at the last show. Actually, what seemed to sell best at the Machias Blueberry Festival was my marbled work - almost half of the items sold were marbled. Which is EXCITING, because to be real, that is my favorite stuff to make! The process takes longer, and is technically more expensive (although I tend to charge the same, as people do not seem to understand that it is more expensive, and I Still want the work to sell) but even though it costs more and is more expensive to make AND more time intensive, there is something SUPER exciting about the random element of the marbled patterns showing up - and even just the element of trimming and scraping of the pieces to show the marbling - it is a lot of fun. I actually had someone at my last show comment that they had never seen that type of technique, and several individuals that I explained the technique to were wowed, and it led to them purchasing marbled pieces when they had initially been pulled to the table by the other, brightly glazed pieces.

I've really focused lately on trying to get colors that POP - I got a new orange, green and blue. The blue is ok, but the Green and Orange REALLY draw attention, and are colors that I will continue to utilize as people are drawn to them. I am a little sad because MY favorite glaze, Fruity Freckles, seems to just do mediocre, so I am not certain if I will continue using it in the future - I have a bunch left in that glaze  - I guess we will see how it does this fall, and that will show me if it is worth using again in the future.

Anywho, a goal I have this winter is to work on blogging more - I feel like I created this blog a year ago, and have only updated it a handful of times so far. I Would like to do better with this, as I personally love to write, and i feel like it is a positive way to keep others up to date on what I have been up to as an artist.

If you have any thoughts on colors you like, pieces you would like to see, or just words of encouragement please comment - I do not think I have had anyone comment on any of my blog posts yet, so getting some feedback would be MUCH appreciated! :D





















Sunday, July 23, 2017


Hey Everyone! 

My husband pointed out that I have not written or updated my Blog at all recently (well... being real... in a very long time...) So I just came on to do that :)

Earlier today I ended a 2.5 day Festival - the Bucksport Bay Festival where they celebrated 225 years of Bucksport as a town, and 20 years of having the Bucksport Festival overall. I had never done the Bucksport Bay Festival, so I was tentative regarding on how it would go. Overall I was very happy - the first (optional) half day was very slow, but Saturday things picked up greatly once the crowds came in! By the time the Festival was over it was a given that I would be back again next year :)

Another positive of attending the Festival was meeting several other vendors. It is always nice to connect with others, and it sounds like I was able to get some positive information regarding other festival opportunities in the future - which is the ideal scenario! The hope is that I will continue to expand the work I am doing, and be able to participate in more and more shows as time progresses.  Honestly, when I think about the "future" in regards to my pottery, I hope that some day I will be able to make a full time job of this. So... figures crossed I can make it there one day :)

So, beyond the past couple days, overall things have gone well the past year. I feel as though I've grown as an artist/potter; I've come a long way in regards to the work I create. I've done well with increasing the quality of my work, and have been enjoying the new items I have created. I've had a lot of fun with testing out different marbling combinations, and have loved trying out new glazes :) I really love the fun/out there colors and the people seem to really enjoy that I have some unusual color options :)

The next big step for me is to prepare for next month :: Similar to this past weekend, I have another large fair to attend, the Machias Blueberry Festival. That runs August 19th and 20th, down in Machias. My mother and Aunt are coming with me to man the tables for the full two days. I am super excited about it, and hopeful that it will be just as successful as the one I attended this weekend! 

The stressful part is, I sold a large portion of my pottery stock yesterday and today - about 45 pieces. So I only have one month to get myself back to baseline and to have enough supply to meet the (expected) demand of the Blueberry Festival. So I am a little nervous, to be honest, about having enough! But will do my best to be as prepared as possible.

For anyone who does not understand the "process", making pottery is not a quick hobby. For any typical piece I would throw it, say, on a Monday. It would need to dry for several days (typically 5 to 7, depending on thickness or how warm it is - it is currently summer and pieces are [luckily] drying faster). Once a piece is dried you fire it in a "Bisque" firing, which takes roughly 8 hours, and then needs another 8 - 10 hours to cool down before you can open the kiln. Once cool you then take the time to plan out glazing. Glazing requires several (typically 3) layers of whatever glaze is selected. Then once you have enough pieces glazed you do a "glaze firing" which is to a different temperature in the kiln, and then the firing takes about 7 hours and then again needs roughly 8 to 10 hours to cool. So for any given piece I make it can take upwards of two weeks before it is "finished". This is also made more complicated/limiting by the fact that my kiln (Which runs GREAT) happens to be on the smaller side, so that means I can only fire 7 - 10 pieces typically, depending on size.

So I have the Blueberry Festival in 4 weeks, and will plan to spend as much time as I can over the next four weeks preparing, and can hopefully get myself to a place where I am prepared and have enough for the show :) HOPEFULLY I see you there :)

Leave a comment letting me know what COLORS you would like to see at the Blueberry Festival, and also what types of pieces you would like to see!! 

(Below are some examples of work I have done over the past year - let me know your favorite pieces!)