A Hallmark Moment

You know that old joke--"Ask me what the hallmark of great comedy is."

What's the hallmark of great com--"Timing."

Timing is everything, this time of year. The end of the year, from October through Christmas, is a series of interlocking hard deadlines. Clay Fest was there, Clayfolk is here, Holiday Market is over there (and there, and there and there...). It takes me 4-6 weeks to make and fire a load of pottery, so I get two firings between Clay Fest and Christmas--and this is the one time of year where I can sell pottery as fast as (if not faster than) I can make it.

Add in the fact that I fire at a co-op studio, so need to fit my firing schedule in with Jon's and Tea's, and things start to get complicated.

And then there's the unexpected changes. I lose a day to a gallery-restock run, another to a mandatory meeting in Southern Oregon. Tea needs an extra day in his firing schedule; can I load a day early? I guess we'll find out.

It doesn't help that after weeks of heat waves and forest fires, we're abruptly in fall weather: cool, damp, overcast when it's not actively raining. Everything in the studio is drying slowly, and taking it outside to dry in the sunshine only a fond memory.

Then there's deciding what to make. Most of the year, I play catch-up. I start with a full inventory in April, then make pots to replace what's sold. I'll come back from a big show with a list of items with a month to make and fire them before the next show. That won't work now; starting in mid-November, I have a big show every weekend.

So I have to anticipate, guess what's gonna sell. Pie plates are easy, pie plates always go. Soups, plates, tall and painted mugs are a gimme, bigger items more of a crapshoot. People spend more, buy bigger at Christmas, but what will they want? Will it be serving bowls? Casseroles? Oh, God, should I be making teapots? (Yes, yes I should.)

Factor in Real Life interruptions--the insulation folks are coming in early November, so all the artwork must come off the exterior walls, all the furniture move in a foot. So much cleaning and sorting to do, most of it falling on Denise at the moment.

So timing is everything right now. It's just time that's lacking.

Greatly Prized

My dinosaur sculpture, Clever Girl, won Second Place in the Clay Fest gallery awards! For which honor I receive bragging rights, two bottles of Pinot Noir and a $25 gift certificate from Georgies Ceramic and Clay Supply Company.

Getting Nearer...

Clayfolk, in Medford, happening as always the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving. We're returning to our longtime location at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway, Medford, Oregon. The show opens Friday at 4 pm, and in an attempt to alleviate some of the parking congestion, we've arranged for All Aboard Trolley service to the Armory from the nearby Walmart parking lot.

The layout of the show will be a little different this year; in an effort to manage the long sales lines on Friday night, a meander (zig-zag sales queue) will be set up in the front of the hall leading out to the sales area the lobby. Saturday and Sunday, the demonstration area will move into that space, instead of back on the far wall as in previous years. This means booths all the way to the back wall; our space, 34, is in the second row, facing the back.

Encore Pattern of the Month:

As fall drifts toward winter, flocks of small birds are swarming through our trees: bushtits, juncos, and, of course, chickadees...

The Sounds of Memory

I went time-traveling this morning, cast adrift by a sound that echoed out of the mist above my head. I found myself back on my Grandpa's farm, a little place scratched out of the pine woods near Fairchild, Wisconsin.

Visiting Grandpa Flick was always an adventure; I don't think his place had changed much since World War II. He never had indoor plumbing, so we used to fight for the privilege of swinging on the handle of the cast-iron pump and catching ice-cold water to drink in the handle-less tin dipper.

Of course, that meant we had to patronize that other exemplar of outdoor plumbing: the weathered wood outhouse, back by the garage. I remember the splintery seat, the big brown spider spinning a web above the door, the can of barn lime you dashed down the hole in the summer to keep the smell more or less under control.

Unlike our farm, Grandpa didn't have any close neighbors. It seemed like the forest crowded in right up to the fence-line, thick and dark and impenetrable. Strange noises came out of it, screams and chitters and a harsh, almost metallic "deed-deed-deed." I imagined all manner of creatures, from lynx to bobcat to pterodactyl (I always was an imaginative child), just on the other side of the barbed wire.

Today, of course, I recognize the screams and chitters as blue jays and red squirrels, disputing over who had title to all the ripe pine seeds. And that eerie, metallic three-note call belongs to the chickadees that flocked invisible in the fog above my head this morning.

Chickadees have been visible on my pottery lately, on plates, pastas and pie dishes, mugs and bowls, bakers and cookie jars, pitchers and sugar bowls.

Indeed-deed-deed.

See other patterns...