The Cheap Barrel

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"Do you have stainless steel oil barrels?"

"Yes, like this?" points at a barrel about five feet away.

"Yeah, exactly."

"Where's your car?"

"It's the yellow Countryman over there. Already measured it and it fits."

"Go open the back." To which I sprint over and throw open the back of the car. He rolls the barrel over, and in one movement pitches the barrel into it, then turns to me, "you got twenty bucks?"

Which I open my wallet and pull a bill out. He grabs it and says "Close the lid and get out of here." And disappears back into the barrel yard. 

I now have a pit fire barrel for the back yard. I was going to build a brick firing area and still may, but this lovely barrel will get me going.

Bye Photo Industry

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After thirty seven years it's time to say goodbye to the photo industry.

I am quitting my job today.

And it's funny because I use to love working for start ups. But there's just something that happens, a greed that sets in, and these companies lose sight of who they are and what's important. I've seen it happen three times now. And each time I've had to walk away. 

At this point one takes away the feeling it's not been worth the effort. In fact it's been a total waste of time. You make someone a whole lot of money by selling their stuff, watch them blow said money on their own ego, and then get out of the way as the wheels come off the company. 

As I said ... I'm quitting. At this point I'm going to be selfish and work on what I should have stuck with all along. Without any damn distractions. Seriously, trying to make art and keep on a production schedule while working for a company five days a week does not work. Now I can devote my entire time to making art again. 

And I couldn't be happier. 

Pause ...

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It’s called taking a step back. To assess, look at the headings, and make sure of the course is correct so that one doesn’t waste a lot of time and effort getting started. The one good thing from the kitty’s death is she made me stop, take a breath, and have a clear look.  

I also got the flu, which provided me with an opportunity to stop drinking, start eating better, and truly relax for once … which all helped in the process. 

There was also my dear wife who also helped, as she is a great person to go back and forth with in conversation, creating ideas out of thin air. 

The clarity out of all of this gave me a real sense I’d already gone off the rails and was not being true to where I am. Which is to say, you can’t really link where you are today with the way you use to work thirty some years ago, because I’m not that person anymore. Hopefully I’ve learned something in thirty years and can bring that into what my hand's make.

Out Of One's Sails

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With a death the wind can some times leave the sails of what your trying to get done. My daughter's cat, Sapphire, passed away on the 14th of December and with it any motivation to be creative. She was a sweet being that the entire family loved dearly.

But the fact is she was sick most of her one year life and required constant meds to keep her stable. In the end she knew it was time and decided to just stop eating. After three days she suffered a stroke and we stayed with her through the night until she was gone. 

I feel at this point, with the passage into the new year, we can put this grief behind us and again be a viable family. 


Progress ...

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So finally all the pots popped off the bats and I was able to start shaping and texturing them. This is only the beginning phase. Lot's more work to be done as there is more shaping, and then burnishing of them with rocks, and then slip applied, and a final burnishing again.

After that the designs will be applied and we will be close to the pit firing. 

I love that I felt the zone for the first time in 32 years. I've missed that. 

Sucking in the 70's ...

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1970's ... working on some porcelain pieces. Images shot by my dear friend Annette Duchane who lived across the street and got me interested in photography and shooting the pictures of my work to send to galleries. 

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If you look over my shoulder at the wall that chalkboard is my calendar. It kept track of when pieces had to be done in time for the Festival of the Arts as I had a firing schedule through out the show to make sure I had enough pieces to sell. 

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Like I couldn't get new ones ... but the two tackle boxes full of tools to the right of me are still being used today.

One step ...

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Yeah, small baby steps. Getting the hands retrained to throw. Remembering where my hands went and how it felt to pull a pot. All in a days work.

Finally pulled four basic pieces which will now be turned into shapes as designed on paper. Lots of paddling into shape and textures applied using slips and other elements. Only a few pieces at a time can go through the process as they have to be kept in that halfway point between wet and dry. 

But I'm happy we're at a point of the first samples going through. Means progress.

Back At It ...

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So after 37 years in the photo industry ... that's right I started in 1981 ... here I am making plans to get out.

Back before 1981 I ran my own ceramics business, making fine art pieces and selling them through galleries and the Festival Of The Arts in Laguna Beach. Why did I ever get into the photo industry in the first place? Well if anyone remembers 1980 was a recessional year and with the downturn in the economy you had to decide between eating, filling your car with gas, and a place to sleep ... no room for fine art. Photography was the other art thing that I was doing having to photograph my work to send to galleries. So I went looking for a photo retail job throughout Orange County and the last place I tried, Cornell's Camera in Mission Viejo, hired me on the spot.  With that I shut down my business and went and worked in the photo industry. Besides working retail for the first twelve years, there was being a manufacturers rep, which grew into being a distributor for two photo high end lighting companies from Germany. Finally landing as being sales director for a little company in Seattle. Lots of travel, and lots of eating antacids. 

I've had enough. 

So I went out and bought myself a kiln, a wheel, dug out all of my old ceramic tools and started working up designs. I am like a little kid again. I'm in the beginning stages of designing my website, my chop (for signing what I do) and have been playing with taking samples through the process and getting my techniques honed. I'll be documenting my travels in getting this off the ground and trying to show what starting a ceramic business is like for anyone who wants to follow.