Saturday, January 22, 2011

Good things come to those who wait.

Large blue crystals with white margin... yum, yum!

Much of the last week and a half since I last posted has been accompanied by a haze of tiredness, but it has been a time of blessing as well as stress. As far as my pottery goes, I have had two more glaze firings and one bisque firing since I last wrote, and am part way through another glaze firing as I write this.

The vase is really a candle stick..., but it will multi-task quite well.

Stuart Street Potters Co-operative
I had to make a big decision this week regarding my membership of the Potter's Co-op that I have belonged to for nearly 3 years.

Stuart Street Potters Co-operative Gallery, Lower Stuart Street, Dunedin

Trying to make a decision led to sleeplessness... and sleeplessness to tiredness.. and tiredness to over-tiredness and to more sleeplessness!! I had a fairly lean time at the Co-op with sales over 8 of the last 12 months, and I was wondering if I should pull out of it and try to put more energy into our own gallery here (where I sell much better), as well as marketing my work in other cities.

Detail of a crystalline glazed bowl that came out of the kiln recently. Photo supplied by Peter Watson.

Being a member of a Co-op is not just a matter of dollars and cents, there are things that are probably more valuable to consider, such as friendship, the sharing of knowledge, having a "safe place" to show work and try out ideas without the pressure of a dealer at a gallery who might try to dictate what sort of work is acceptable. Having my work at the Co-op also does serve as advertising for me, and it has directly resulted in sales of work in our own gallery.

The bowl. Hard to photograph because of reflections, but Peter W. did a better job of it than the attempts that I made. Photo Peter Watson.

Being a member of the Co-op means that you share the running costs and rental of the gallery, and also have meetings to attend, and one day a fortnight looking after the gallery.

Stuart Street Potters Co-op, some of the pots by 4 of the Co-op members.

Showing at a Co-op does have its downside. There are probably thousands of ceramic items on display at any one time. If only 10 people come through the door in the day wanting to buy something, then it can be a bit of a lottery as to which member of the 12 member Co-op makes a sale... actually the process is more Darwinian than that... Something eye catching (red is good!), that is easily carried, and is affordable, tends to scramble to the top of the heap, and quiet items or large dinosaurs risk extinction.

Some of these crystals are a bit like fossils.... very apt!

There were times in the middle of last winter, when those costs, though very modest, seemed like mountains when compared to what I was actually selling. I also had concerns that my work just didn't seem to "fit" there... I have an affinity with dinosaurs... of the quiet, vegetarian kind!

I unloaded this one last Sunday. I am rather liking crystalline glazes that are coloured by iron oxide.

Anyway, right up to me sitting down at our monthly meeting on Thursday evening, my decision could have gone either way...

Close up of crystals that are rather like flowers. This was out of the same firing as the iron coloured pot above it. Notice how the crystals in this copper coloured glaze have a different character than the ones with iron. The copper assists the crystal growth, the iron seems to slow it down.

... but, when it came to the crunch.... I found myself wanting to stay! So... I'm staying!

This is a tall vase and is not designed to take candles.

I don't usually go on about such things on my blog, but the decision has been rather dominating my thoughts over the last week or three.

Thanks Wilson!
Now to the good stuff.... Wilson, from Dunedin Florida, sent me a wonderful gift recently.

Thought I would sneak this picture in. This caused us some merriment at the time, as.... there seems to be rather a difference in height between us. A bit like Gulliver's Travels, or Alice in Wonderland..

Wilson and his partner, Marti, visited us here early November (see "A mini post from "Potters' Paradise"), and we shared some precious time together. Wilson was amazed at my lack of technology, evidently crystalline glazed pottery is quite high-tech in America, and I use a kick wheel, control my kiln by hand, and had real struggles grinding run off glaze from the bottoms of my pots. I could do it..., slowly, but it was part of the process that would take me all of a morning to finish the bottoms of a kiln load of pots, rather than just a few minutes.

Wilson gave some thought to me toiling away here, and very kindly sent me two grinding disks that are set with industrial diamonds, the same as what he uses. With one of these attached to my electric wheel (which I mostly don't use), I can smooth the glaze runs off my pots in a fraction of the time that I was taking before. It is wonderful how being on the receiving end of kindness like that can make life so much better..., the benefit goes far beyond just being able to complete a process faster.

Col and Jen.
Years ago, when I was a painter, I was stretching some large canvasses to paint on. The process involves pulling thick canvas tight and attaching it to a special wooden frame called a stretcher. On small canvasses, it is not too difficult to do this job by hand, but on larger ones, it is helpful to have special pliers with extra wide jaws to grip the canvas with. I was short of money at the time, and could not afford to buy canvas pliers, so I was doing large canvases by hand. My fingers were sore with the effort, and my skin quite raw. Mid way through the work, I was visited by an elderly retired Minister and his wife, Col and Jen Angus, who quietly observed what I was doing. We chatted about this and that, and I may have given them a cup of tea.

Laura at our kitchen table with Jen and Col Angus.

About a week later, there was a knock on the back door. I was rather busy at the time and rather abruptly flung the door open. There were Col and Jen, smiling rather shyly..., and actually looking radiant with happiness. They said that they didn't want to disturb me, but had a little gift for me that I might find useful. They handed me a little paper bag. Inside were some brand new canvas pliers. After visiting me before, they had gone home and made some inquiries about canvas pliers.. I think that they had rung up a gallery and an art supplies shop or two. Then they had ordered these for me from Christchurch. I have the pliers still, and always think of Col and Jen. Both are dead now, having lived long and gentle lives. Many people were touched by their kindness over the years.

Laura was given a bunch of flowers by the ladies at Women's Fellowship. It is a late birthday present (Laura's birthday is early December).

Last, but not least....
I have had extraordinary sales (for me) this month, I think I am up to about 29 items sold between my studio here and the Co-op in Dunedin. It is rather like having an exhibition. We have also made new friends.

I have been firing another crystalline glaze firing whilst writing this post, and that is finished now, so I am off to grind some bottoms of pots from a firing that I unpacked last night (photos will follow soon.).

Next week I hope to begin making new pots to fill the gaps on the shelves ..... Whoopeeeeeeee!


Pat - Arkansas said...

I am so happy for your improved sales, Peter! Your beautiful work deserves to be seen and acquired by those who will appreciate it. I continue to be filled with awe at the beauty of your crystalline glazes. I send my thanks to Mr. Watson for his photos of your gorgeous bowl.

I hope your decision to stay with the Coop is a profitable one.

Thanks for all the wonderful photos!

mieke van sambeeck said...

These pots are wonderfull, you must be happy with the result, such nice chrystals and lovely colours.

Peter said...

Hi Pat,
Good to hear from you, sorry that you haven't heard from me for a while... as you see, life continues busy here. The improved sales are a great relief, as it had been a difficult winter. I'll pass on your thanks to Peter, it was he that started me potting about 7 years ago, so there is a lot to thank him for.

Hi Mieke,
Lovely to hear from you. Welcome to my site, I have just had a quick visit to yours and saw some gorgeous Santas there at Christmas time. I will have another look around tomorrow (I'm about to try and get some sleep now). I do find the crystal glazes quite magical, and, even when they don't go right, they always are interesting. Some good glaze tests out of the kiln last night, so photos will follow soon.

Best Wishes to you and to Pat,

Linda Starr said...

Love the shape of that first pot rather like a lady with a hat, so wonderful the sales and the friends sending gifts.

Arkansas Patti said...

Wonderful news about your improved sales. Your work is so amazing, it is only a matter of time. Those copper crystals blow my mind.
So glad your "little" friends from the states sent you those time saving grinding disks.
Get some rest big fellow.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. There is something quite feminine about the candlestick. When my friend, Peter W. saw it, he said "Minoan", and I knew exactly what he meant. If you have a look at Minoan Art or ceramics you will find a snake goddess figure that has similar proportions. Funny how these things happen.

Hi Patti,
I'm going to take your advice... some rest will be on the agenda for tomorrow. I will take the day off! Today though I'll have to finish some pot bottoms and open our gallery. Some people have booked in to come early today, so I must get things ready for that.

Angie said...

so please your sales have picked up ....about time ...your work is beautiful the tall vase and dont the flowers look gorgeous in the round one. The effects on the bowls are breath taking ...I just keep staring at them.
It is wonderful that friends, past and present, have given you a practical gift when you need it most.

Btw I think you made a good decision.xx

Peter said...

Hi Angie,
Lovely to hear from you. Regarding the decision, I think it's the right thing too. I feel much more at rest in the poor old brain now that it is decided! Yes, thank goodness for kind friends too and the memory of them. Crystalline bowls are definitely on my agenda for some of the next things to make. Not the easiest to get right technically, but look lovely when they work.

Armelle said...

Wonderful bolw and wonderful bouquet of flowers in your vase, bravo pour vos ventes, I am happy for you.
I am pretty quiet, but my visits to your blog continues,
a little tired of winter!

Bon Dimanche (Dimanche ?) à vous, Laura et aux chats :-)

Peter said...

Bon dimanche Armelle,
And it will be Sunday in your part of the world..., we are very early Monday morning as I write, but I will retain your "good Sunday" for next week! :)
It is lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your kind comments. I do hope that winter is soon chased away by Spring.
Kind Thoughts,
Peter and (sleeping) Laura, Nigella Stopit, and Ginger


Absolutely speechless at the beautiful crystal effects you got on these pots, Peter! Amazing!

I gave your blog an award over on my blog - check it out when you have time.