It's another overcast day here in New England with the sun peeping out briefly here and there. Weird how this year has been so cloudy and rainy so much of the time, but hopefully the weather pattern will eventually change and we will get some sunnier days next year. In the meantime, most of the leaves except for a few stubborn oaks are finally off the trees and I've been cleaning up my yard and gardens in preparation for the snowy season ahead.
So I've been trying to figure out how best to approach the mug sales. Mug making is a slow going process and full of unseen pitfalls... These vessels are finished in small numbers, and in fits and starts. The studio that I belong to has at least 50 members and there are many other people who are also trying to get things fired in the limited amount of kiln space, and before the holiday craft sales ramp up. So far they actually have been getting a lot of my stuff through which speaks to the efficiency of the friendly staff there, but I just never know how long it will take to get things done.
The firings are done in two stages. First there is the low temperature bisque firing where the pots are completely dried out and partially vitrified but are still relatively soft, similar to a clay plant pot. The bisque allows you to handle the piece without breaking and are porous, so that you can then apply the glazes. I apply iron oxide to the bottoms and then wipe off the highlights to bring out the texturing. Next is the glaze firing and that goes much higher in temperature to fuse the clay into a vitrified semi glass object. The glazes are actually a special type of thin glass that is formulated to adhere and fit to the clay body. They are tricky and easy to mess up when applying.
People have been emailing me and asking for certain custom things. I'm sorry but I simply cannot do any custom requests for people. I make what I make, and these are the pieces I have to offer. The list of reasons why I need to work this way is long, but here are a few of them...
Clay shrinks a lot during firing so I keep thinking I will end up with larger mugs than what I start out with. A big mug that looks like it will be 15oz ends up being 10oz for instance by the time it is done. I cannot them make too much larger because I am rolling out slabs and bottoms by hand and assembling them rather than wheel throwing. I'm making them this way because this is how I can do all the crazy textures and stamps which would be nearly impossible if they were wheel thrown. Well, the slabs vary in thickness by a lot since I'm doing this with a rolling pin on an old cutting board and it's all done by eye. So some of these mugs are ending up quite heavy already...if I were to make a one quart mug that ends up at 20 oz when fired, you are talking about something that finishes up weighing around 2 lbs! It ain't happening, lol. Now, I am trying to make more pieces that will end up in the 13-16 oz range, but that is probably going to be close to the comfortable limit for this particular hand building technique.
Another thing that comes up is color. So far I only have found 3 or 4 of the studio glazes that will break nicely on the texturing and stamps and are also somewhat transparent. No doubt I will eventually have more colors, but for now I can only work with what is available to me and what will look good on heavy texture and stamps....
I'm afraid I simply cannot make another cup just like this one, but with blue glaze instead of green, and please use this stamp here and add a fairy door, and can you make it 20oz? Yikes! :D All of these requests will quickly take all the fun and spontaneity out of it I'm afraid. And you guys have only seen a fraction of the wild textures and amazing custom stamps I am wanting to use! We're talking aliens, UFOs, fishing, ancient Heraldic symbols, skulls, hot rods, bigfoot, tiki style hula girls, movie monsters, dogs, etc! I have lots of great nature themes and florals coming as well. Every time I pick up the latest batch it is like Christmas. :)
The other difficulty I wasn't anticipating was how to post these. They are all different, slow to make, different sizes, different prices, etc. It all can turn into a logistical nightmare. I could set up a shopify store for instance, but that quickly turns into a pain, and is another cost, more paperwork, etc for something that already is taking up a tremendous amount of time and money. Email sales are greatly enjoyable for the customer interaction, but can be a little slow and awkward because folks are understandably busy and can't get back to me right away sometimes. I get into a problem though with sending pictures, and then someone else wants pictures too, so if I send the same pics to the second guy the first guy might get back to me a day later and the cup is already sold. That's not the best way to go about it for sure...man, all this stuff is waaaay trickier than I realized! :)
So, here is what I decided for now and we'll see how it goes. I will post a few pieces at a time and with separate buy now buttons for each one. This is the easiest way for me to do it at the moment I think, even though paypal just changed all of it's buttons and I'm having to figure all that out on top of everything else... Once I get going, if the pieces sell immediately then I can maybe post a second or third group the same day. These sales will be interspersed with regular tool sales, and they will continue for the next few months at least. So no worries, I will be making lots and lots of these cups and other items and you will definitely get a chance to have one, it just might take a while to make it happen.
Lastly, I still haven't figured out the best way to ship ceramics internationally, or the cost to do so. They obviously cannot go into a flat rate envelope (unless I include a tube of super glue for your "kit" mug, hehe). For the time being I am going to have to say US sales only please, but I promise I will look into it and see how I can safely and cost effectively ship internationally.
***All of these pieces are dishwasher and microwave safe, with lead free and food safe glazes!***
Thank you so much guys! That is it for today, but I will have more very soon! :)
Here we go...Mug #1 is a beauty. Featuring a cool grassy field texture, it has a lovely classical style band around the top and stunning pebble grain bottom. Hypno swirly stamp inside. The glaze is Grassy Green Celadon. This piece is just about 11 oz and will be $65 plus shipping.