So I started throwing planters, bird feeders, houses, and baths this weekend to get ready. This forms are new for me and the larger planters will be a nice challenge. Because our gas kiln is larger, I am changing to a different clay that fires hotter without melting than the electric kiln in the garage. I may do some vases and ikibana containers as well. I love the combination of bamboo and clay. Or wire and clay.
Once the ware is dry – takes about a week or two, then they undergo the first firing, then glazing, firing again, sanding the bottoms and then they are ready for the show. As you can see, 4-6 weeks is a good turn around time for most potters and longer amounts of time are necessary for special items. Sometimes problems with any step can force the project to begin again delaying the final product even further. Stay tuned as the Blandy pieces go through their paces!
Jim and I are the owners of Leaman Pottery, a cottage operation in the Catoctin Mountains. We suspect we live somewhere near Camp David but have never tried to determine exactly where Camp David is located. Its highly unlikely we would be invited in any event, so it really doesn’t matter!
As an introduction to Jim and me, we are a retired couple that have been dabbling in clay for over 30 years. We both had very respectable professional careers, but I always wanted to make and sell handmade pottery. Jim has been an enthusiastic supporter and loves to fire the kilns, especially the gas kiln. Between us we have 10 children, a gaggle of grandchildren and, now, the chance to run our Pottery full-time.
Last year we got our feet wet with sales in boutique shops in Historic Downtown Frederick, attendance at various craft shows, and a very rudimentary start at on-line sales. We also started teaching 2 one-and-done classes in Frederick. “Take a Turn at the Wheel” and “Clay and Chardonnay”. These have been very fun for both of us and the participants. We look forward to continuing these this year.
Our other big project for this year is to get our Leaman Pottery Shops on-line, stocked, and functional. A big endeavor for this year, but we are looking forward to learning how to take the photos, present on-line effectively, and, hopefully, provide folks outside of Frederick a chance to enjoy our work.
I though it would be fun to share the ups and downs of this journey on our web-site in case other potters are interested in the process and time involved in marketing a small pottery business. We are also interested in feedback, especially when we run into the inevitable snags along the way.
In my next post, I will describe my attempt to find the correct photo set-up and why we chose what we did and the effort and time to make the props.
With the holidays over and family obligations now at a minimum, my throwing schedule has taken on a new rhythm. I was thinking today of the things that make throwing pots on the potters wheel as a full-time clay artist more enjoyable than working at clay part-time with the responsibilities of a full time job outside the home the 1st priority.
Part-time potters are always struggling to work on their pieces when the clay is just the right consistency. I don’t know how many times a piece has dried in the damp closet because I just couldn’t get back to it or I ruined a piece because I tried to trim it before it was hard enough to retain its shape.
I always had lots of scrap clay that needed processing so that I could use it rather than buying new bags of clay at $25 a bag. Now the scrap clay is minimal and I simply use clay directly from the bag, almost eliminating the time spent on continual clay re-cycling.
I don’t have to rush as I throw, and no longer experience the disappointment of starting over on a piece because of the precious time lost on a less than satisfactory first attempt that went awry.
My work space is much cleaner and I am not spending time searching for tools, sponges and examples of what I want to add to my inventory.
I have time to throw a series and determine the best shape, proportion, and composition. Because I am with my pieces all day, I find that I am tweaking my shapes to make them better as they dry.
Retirement suits me! I love pursuing my favorite activity and creative outlet. I look forward to every day that I can play in the mud.
Spent a great day in the studio today. Everything out of the kiln was perfect and I actually managed 3 out of 3 double chip and dip bowls without any cracks. This is a first. I think I have finally mastered the assembly of this piece. They seem to make great wedding gifts. Started on a series of batter bowls and syrup pitchers for pancakes and syrup for gifts. Opening an Etsy shop today as well.
Here are the glazed brie bakers, colanders, berry bowls and mugs for this spring. We have decided to open an Etsy shop as well as show my work in the Little Pottery Shop. The new owner of the Little Pottery Shop, Dana, is keeping me busy with French Butter keepers and berry bowls as it is wedding season and they make really nice wedding gifts. Take a look!
The new owner at the Little Pottery Shop has sold a canister set that had been “hidden” on the back of a shelf for 3 years. He has painted and redesigned the displays and sales have picked up. Of course the weather has helped tremendously now that the very short spring and summer have arrived. Have a list of things to throw to restock items that have sold. YES!
After a very long winter, surgery, rehab, and taking care of my Mom, finally throwing again this spring. Spent a fabulous day in the studio yesterday making brie bakers and French Butter keepers. Hope to have them glazed by next weekend. Have a large number of mugs glazed and ready for the last fire along with some other specialty pieces. Hope to have pictures posted soon.
After several joint set-backs, I am now “fixed” with new hip and new back. I have discovered a winning glaze combination and I am currently in the process of throwing a whole set of dishes and serving pieces for myself. I have also been asked to join the Pottery Guild of Frederick and will be training the month of March. I am excited to have the exposure on Market in the heart of Historic Frederick as well as on Shab row. I also will soon have mugs in “The Main Cup” in Middletown. The food and coffee at “The Main Cup” has fabulous food and many thanks to Kim for selling a variety of mugs from local potters including her son who has amazing talent at a very young age. I look forward to showing my work on my blog again as I continue to throw and keep really busy.