Working from home is an interesting beast. There is no dress code, no time clock, no deadlines, and, consequently, no paychecks. Also, you are both never at work and always at work at the same time.
When I gave up my steady nursing job on Star Wars Day, May the 4th (be with you), my primary job became full time captain of our family’s ship. If there were an actual ship, with sails to hoist, hatches to batten down, and the like, that might be enough to keep me sufficiently engaged, but, there is no actual ship, just lots of cooking, dishes, laundry, and children's moral frameworks to structure. Whatever, I'm still a captain.
To keep sane, I decided to also focus on my health, this blog, and my pottery. It took a while to get going on the pottery. I had a lot of excuses keeping me busy.
Ultimately, the key was having a plan... and children in school. The plan was to throw 100 mugs. That was it. And I did it. (No one is more shocked by this than me.)
When it comes to pottery, though, throwing is only part of the process. The pots also have to be bisque fired, glazed, fired again and (hopefully) sold. That’s a lot more process.
As for glaze, I had used the last of my supply for a kiln load in April and I was frozen in indecision at the prospect of picking new colors. My friend, Lecia, saw me floundering around with this problem and decided I needed an intervention. The kind where drugs and/or alcohol is actually recommended.
She helped me pick colors online and when I was ready to order them, sight unseen, she calmly and wisely said, “uh, no”. So she rode with my daughter and me to The Ceramic Shop in Philadelphia to look at glaze samples in person. Together we picked out five tester pints.
The problem with being all methodical about picking new glazes, though, is a pint of glaze is not big enough to dip a mug into. Therefore, one must paint the glaze on. Like, with a brush. Each mug took three coats. That’s a lot of painting.
The only glaze I had that I could dip mugs into was Eggshell. So, I could have easily made a large portion of the kiln load white. Thankfully, Lecia talked me out of that too. White isn’t exactly a huge seller.
After days of painting came the glaze firing, which is terrifying. That is when, after all the work of throwing and glazing, you put your faith in chemistry and physics and walk away. It’s like pushing your baby birds from the nest. Well, more accurately, it’s like setting them on fire and waiting until they cool back down to see if they’ve managed to fly.
The ones that did needed to be sold. That's right, we potters set our babies on fire and then try to sell them. It's tough love.
I had it in the back of my mind that these mugs would eventually come with me to a craft show along with some siblings I've already started to make.
However, I put a picture of some of the mugs on Facebook and the response had me changing my mind. People were ready to buy. Who was I to stand in their way?
The problem with selling online, versus a craft show, is that each item needs its own picture. So I started taking mug shots*. A ridiculous amount of mug shots as it turned out.
The last time I put pottery on my website, I tried to make everything look all artsy. I didn’t like that look for these mugs (after I had already photographed them all). My mugs aren’t meant to be shot like objets d’art. They’re functional. My hope is for them to live in cabinets and hang out on tables, or, the ultimate place for a mug to visit, the deck. The deck! Outside they all went, five at a time.
Each picture got edited, each glaze combination got named, and up everything went on the website. Game time! The store was open for business.
There was just one problem. It didn’t occur to me that more than one person would try to buy the same mug at the same time. As soon as I announced on Facebook that my mugs were for sale, the orders started coming in. It was a bit hectic, but it didn't matter. People wanted to have my mugs. My people. And my heart grew three sizes. (Metaphorically, speaking. I don’t suffer from cardiomegaly.)
Sure, if you factor in all the time it took for me to make and sell my mugs, I made less per hour than I did in college working at 7-Eleven, but, it isn’t about the money. I decided to make mugs and the next thing I knew (and by next thing, I mean weeks later) people were handing me money for them. It was magic.
Or persistence and hard work, however you want to look at it. The point is, the idea became a plan, the plan became reality and it totally made me smile. If you are one of the wonderful people who bought one (or more) of my mugs, I hope it makes you smile too. Thank you.
Financial Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated to mention The Ceramic Shop. But, it's a great store if you're into ceramics. *Also, please direct any and all proceeds for the use of the term "Mug Shot" in reference to pictures of mugs to Silverpixels.
I like to throw things.