Friday, November 27, 2009

Crazy Craft Sale Season

So sorry that I haven't written for a while. It's that time of the year again when we craftspeople become unsociable, spending every waking moment in the studio or out on the road flogging our wares. Subsequently, it leaves little time, energy or mental fortitude to write.

The past couple of weekends were spent at Wintergreen (craft sale in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) and Artisans (craft sale in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada). One was average sales, the other a dismal failure. I honestly don't know about craft sales any more. The costs of being there continually go up with the gross sales going down. Our average purchaser is aging and they just don't need any more stuff. In fact, they are downsizing, getting rid of stuff. And for purchasing gifts, their kids are at the stage where they need basics, not luxury goods. I don't know what the answer is. Does any one out there have any ideas?

I am grateful that I get to play at work everyday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The First Fusings

Yesterday I undertook my first fusing firing. While relatively simple, it was not without its moments. For instance. How do you get the program on? I finally did, but I have no idea how I did it. And the quick cool to 960 degrees. How do you get it down to that temperature without causing the
controller to jump to the next step? As soon as you close the lid, it jumps back up in temperature. (Lee informed me that he cools it to below 1300, shuts the lid and lets the rest cool on its own). Or after my panic attack and placing the program on hold, how do you get it back on track? I know it will get easier as I go on. The first is always the most nerve wracking.

I opened the kiln this morning and took out my first fusings. Are they good or bad? I have no idea. I guess it depends on what I was trying to acco
mplish. There were some things that I did note:
  • As Lee said, you do need a lot of powder to make the colour noticeable. Would a white background glass be better?
  • The gold leaf carbonized. Why?
  • The sharp lines from the glass melted and softened. Why was I surprised about that?
  • Air bubbles. Like? Don't like? Don't know.

All in all. A good first attempt I think.

Here's to the fun of first attempts. As you have no base line for comparison, they are all successful!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lee Brady's Studio Visit

Well, my equipment was set up and ready to go except for installing the probe. I left that to do with Lee. He arrived Wednesday afternoon and the fun began. First, was to have a look at the equipment and install the probe. It was a good thing that I waited for him as I would have put the probe in straight which would have taken up a great deal of the kiln. Instead, he drilled on the diagonal, leaving more kiln room.

Our next ste
p was to teach me how to program the profiles. We went through the process he uses with his equipment. When we tested the profile, we discovered that it was different from his (although it is the same, but newer, equipment). We had to program it over again, discovering that the new system is much simpler. Yipee!

Then we got to play, creating pieces to fuse the next day. I also got Lee to teach me to pull stringers. The day was over before I knew it.

I am grateful that there will be more days like today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Equiment Ready to Go

Finally, the external temperature controller was installed. Not the easy job that I had imagined. The relay switch that they sent was 120V for a 240V hook-up and kiln. That necessitated the purchase of several other pieces of equipment and significant time on the part of the electrician. I'm not wanting that bill. But it is done.

Originally, Lee and I were to get together last Thursday, but as the controller wasn't hooked up yet, we decided to postpone until it was. So plans were to get together this week. I'm looking forward to it.

I am thankful that I managed to learn patience. I sometimes really need it.

Our First Regional Meeting

Our first regional Mentorship meeting took place on Sunday,
November 1. Like many artist events, there was food. We had a potluck lunch that didn't disappoint. All but one person managed to attend. Anita Rocamora had recently returned from a ten day world wind tour of Korea and the Cheongju International Craft Biennale, so much of the discussion over lunch was about her experience. Canada was featured in the guest pavilion this year with their exhibition, Canada Unity & Diversity. Paula Cooley, one of mentees, had a ceramic sculpture included in the show. It was delightful to flip through the several catalogs that Anita brought back with her. She has promised to make them available through the Saskatchewan Craft Council at a later date. I eagerly look forward to having a good look at them then.
  • symbolism of light
  • memory of light
  • light painting/painting with light (I have to look up Eric Curry)
  • in abstract painting - one must consider where is the light coming from
  • pop art - optical illusions created by light and eye movement
These ideas will require further thought on my part.

Some other suggestions beg investigation. Plexiglass presents some interesting possibilities in combination with light and clay in sculpture. Plexiglass is available at the Co-op, but one must wear a mask when cutting. Thick plate glass, with sand blasted edges, set on edge and lit has intriguing effects. As does stacked triangles of glass. Any number of new things to try!

Last, but not least, was a comment about the success of a sculpture from Paula Cooley's perspective. Success is determined by the ability of the piece to animate space. Hum..... I've never thought of that. Will have to!

Our next meeting is scheduled for January 3, 2010.

Right: Paula Cooley, Kathleen Houston (right)

Left: Frances Robson, Anita Rocamora (standing), Lee Brady

I love discussions that provoke thought.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The All Important Resource

I am constantly reading and learning about marketing. I always try to stay on top of the latest and greatest (a near to impossible task). I came across a book a few months ago through the CARFAC Saskatchewan Newsletter and borrowed it through their library. It is, with out a doubt, the best book on art marketing I have ever read. In fact, five pages into the book, I ordered it.

I'd rather be int he studio, The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self Promotion
by Alyson B. Stanfield contains some of the best, easy to read, easy to follow advice. It also contains some great resources, much off of Alyson's own website. I've signed up for her newsletter and through it have found some great stuff. I strongly recommend that you check it out and sign up.

Just a note. I ordered my copy through a bookstore. I wouldn't recommend buying it that way. It took forever! I suggest that you purchase it direct off of Standfield's site. Best $35 I've ever spent!

I am so very grateful for books and libraries. They are too precious for words!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Opening

Is there an artist who doesn't dread openings? I'm sure that there are, but I'm not one of them. It's not that I'm not a people person. I am. It's just that it's really hard on the ego. What if they don't like my work? Even worse. What if no one comes?

When you live out of town and you have no family to guilt into coming, you learn not to expect a large attendance at openings. The turnout was small, but enthusiastic. While I would have loved a huge crowd, more important was the response from those who attended. I got the feedback to the work that I wanted. I got wow! For a snippet of some of the reaction here's a review written by Cathryn Miller.

Since that day, I've run across a series of articles that I wished I had read when I first got confirmation of my exhibition. Written by Alyson B. Stanfield, the articles, Start Promoting Your Exhibit Now, contain very good and useful ideas on how to get some excitement generated about a show. I will certainly be better armed for my next exhibition!

Have you ever noticed that the more that you learn, the less you know?

I am thankful for knowledge learned better late than never.