Pick Yourself

I took a long time to get back making work this year but no longer than last year. Maybe I was waiting for someone to pick me to do something rather than just starting. It can be a bit scary to just start, as you would like to play it safe and wait until everyone and everything is ready. Maybe I was waiting for inspiration, a better idea, for the right weather, for some gallery to pick me to make a commission, for some customer to pick me to make a plate setting. Today I thought maybe I would pick myself and just start making pots. By just starting I do mess up but get better as I go. Just starting means you’re on the hook for ideas that may not work. Not starting and Not picking yourself could mean you were not ready to fail. But if you make art you fail many times as it’s part of the process.

But today I told myself I would fail and it felt great. We go to our jobs we have been taught to do as we are told and in school we were trained to comply and follow to the letter all the processes that would guarantee success to make all the normal things for normal folks to make money for the stockholders and for our families. But if those above us fail from being to normal, we still lose our jobs from those places we thought safe. Normal is a race to the bottom and to normal is bankruptcy as normal folks can buy it anywhere so why from you. I don’t ever want to make normal work at the pottery for normal folks. Folks like us do things different, like us.

Others can buy those normal things at normal places like Wal-mart and Amazon. And to get better I may mess up a bunch putting my self out there and taking chances to connect with those who may enjoy what I do. If I can just make a few things and show it to a few folks and they show it to a few other folks I might be on to something. If I pick myself and nothing happens then maybe I need better work that communicates, creates change in some way, and connects with people.

As the great marketing philosopher Seth Godin says:

“It’s up to us if we are picking ourselves to decide what we want to be known for. It’s essential that we not permit ourselves or anyone else deniability just because it’s “doing my job.” I think if you’re doing your job, you’re responsible for the work whether or not someone asks you to do it.”

Both you and me can do and try what we think may make a statement or give a gift to the world. There is no better time and we can reach a world of people by just a few clicks. We do not need permission to pick ourselves, nor do we have any gatekeepers to tell us what we can or can’t do. We can simply start and see what changes we can make to the world around us and even when those who are far more normal , looking for normal things may disagree. Many may not like what we start or finish but that’s ok it was not for them, but for the few on the edges. You will be surprised how much is on the edges by picking yourself and just starting. By starting on a journey you may find yourself in strange places doing new and exciting things and helping others like waiting on the kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

Rusty Clapper’s Cow

It was 7:00 am when Rusty Clapper finished milking. He had to get done on time as today was the day the milk truck would come at 8:00 am. Rusty had a cow that was almost ready to freshen, and he needed to clean the pen. He thought maybe it would be safer to put her across the road in the small pasture, as the ol gal was a bit jumpy, and he didn’t want her having complications and all from him spooking the cow from cleaning the pen and laying down bedding. She went across the road real nice and easy, and Rusty went to cleaning the pen. He fluffed up the bedding extra special. But for some reason, when Rusty was driving her back across the road to the barn, the cow laid down.

Now Rusty Clapper never in all his life seen nor heard of a cow simply laying down crossing the road. Nor had he ever seen nor thought that his milk cow would end up stopping traffic for the better part of the day because of where the cow decided to rest. It was on the sharp bend on Clapper Hill right in the middle, leaving no room for traffic on either side as the right had a large maple tree that was all chipped up from accidents and a deep ditch on the left. Many a good folk not from the area would have issues making kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend. It was more like a 90-degree turn with no S shape at all, with no sign as a big water truck took it out six months back when they lost their breaks.  Rusty made good money pulling folks out of his field up there, and he always had a tractor ready when someone would knock.  Rusty Clapper yelled to the barn for the boys to come out and lend a hand with his cow. He had to yell as they had no cell phones at the barn because you could not get a signal anyway up on kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

Rusty Clapper had one of the boys park the John Deere tractor in the road on one end to warn traffic, and his Oliver tractor on the other end to do the same. By now there was a long line as the gas company was fracking a big well on clapper hill and water trucks, log trucks, and the milk truck in the back all came to a halt due to Rusty Clapper’s cow that laid down. Folks were getting out and gathering around the cow to see if they could help out old Rusty in some way, while others took video of the event. Rusty formulated an action plan and told his younger boy to run and get the four-wheeler and chain and drag up an old car hood. The plan Rusty had would be to have a bunch of guys like us help him shove the milk cow over on the hood real easy like and simply slide her out of the road. So with the four-wheeler hooked to the chain hooked to the car hood, we all tried pushing Rusty’s cow over. ”Ok hold up boys. I see feet sticking out the back.” says Rusty. We all looked, and he was right, the cow was calving right there on kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

“Well, I better run to the barn and get the pulling chains and a pail of water…we better pull the calf here if we can before we try to move her.” Some guys took a break to try to call in late to others who were waiting on the one half cell signal bar the milkman found further up the road and others had a smoke while we all waited for Rusty Clapper to come back from the Milk house with the pulling chains and a pail of hot water. It took another hour to get the calf delivered into the road. Things like calving can’t be rushed, no matter where you might be going.  While waiting, Rusty told us all  just last year he had six cows freshen Easter Sunday morning almost all the same time, and he missed church.  Once the calf was pulled from its mother and into the road, Rusty cleared it’s nose and throat then tied off the cord and dragged the calf around front to let the new mother clean things up some as we all stood around waiting for the ordeal to be done and over with. “ Well, she might have milk fever.” said Rusty. “I better go get a bottle of calcium gluconate and the IV.”

When Rusty Clapper got back, he pushed the IV needle into the vain in the milk cow’s neck and had Milkman Dan hold the bottle up. “Ok. Maybe that’s why she laid down in the first place. She’ll be good as new in a few minutes, guys. Thanks for stopping by today, Dan.”  Rusty said, making a joke as the calcium emptied into the cow’s blood stream. “You got my Milk check payment in your pocket or is it in the truck” “Yeah I do.” says Milkman Dan, handing Rusty an envelope. “But I should take part of it as payment for a late fee and a vet bill.” Well that would be hard to do Dan.” Said Rusty smiling. “Not unless you rip a corner off and take it with you. But they may not cash it at the bank.” Shut the hell up and get moving.” said Milkman Dan with a cigarette hanging from his lips. “My hands are cold.”

Rusty Clapper then gave the cow a slap on the back, and she stood up like she had someplace to go. We all clapped. As folks walked back to their vehicles, Rusty and the boys moved the cow and calf to the barn, then went to work removing all the cow moving emergency equipment from the road. Rusty waved us all though like he was managing an accident scene. The whole event on Clapper hill made Facebook and everyone in the area sent in hearts upon seeing the calf delivery out on kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

There might not have been a real calf delivery up there on Clapper Hill, and there may not be a real Rusty Clapper. This could be something that might happen in a small town near you if you only take the time to look.  Story elements are everywhere. Hiding under carpets, in closets, under beads. We just need to go find them all, stuff them in a bag then dump them all out on some life table and look at what we have collected. There is a real kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend, and I myself got to meet that maple tree up close and personal. This is my story, so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

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Downtime –

I have been thinking and reading a lot of books while I come out of a time of direction setting and planning. Making the pots is only 20% of running a pottery buisness.  The other 80% is getting the work out to folks who might enjoy it.  I need to get back to working on the 20% as I have been down far to long already to think things over on the 80%.  Good ideas are only good if one can follow though with them.  I now have all the foundation tools in place to have a great year but just need to start working with them. 

I learned that downtime is a thing not to feel guilty about as I foud it refreshing and a time to think and learn.  Also there is no reason to light yourself onfire to keep others warm.  We can only help others by keeping ourselves healthy. Taking time for self care, family, books, and thinking is very important. I always look forward to the month I take of down time over the hoildays to relax and also come up with new and exciting things for the new year. 

Over the break I was able to work at a few of the art shops and galleries and had a great time chatting with both customers and other artist.  I was able to generate some idea for collaborations. We not only sell our work as artist but we also sell stories. At times that story can be communicated though the work.  Other times it is told though the community one becomes a part of if they chooose after buying the work.  I am feeling very positive about the new year and hope 2022 allows me to get more of my functional work into the hands of famlies so they can enjoy using authentic handmade art in their every day lives.  

Below is a short story I wrote for you all.  It is about somthing that might happen in a small town near you if you only take the time to look.  Story elements are everywhere. Hiding under carpets, in closets, under beads. We just need to go find them all, stuff them in a bag then dump them all out on some life table and look at what we have collected.  Here is a story about Billy Mott’s Boots.  Hope you all have a great year!




Billy Mott’s Boots – 




There was a big box propped up on edge next to the mail box on the snow bank for Billy Mott last year Black Friday weekend. We all knew because Debbie Johnson told us all when she stopped in for a coffee at the Best Choice Diner, while walking her dog. It looked like it was from someone in Plano Texas to Billy Mott. Big Jimmy , the owner and cook thought maybe it was from Billy’s oil rich uncle.

Billy Mott lived with his alcoholic mother in a small camper down by the tracks. He lost his father fifteen years ago Thanksgiving after being hit by a train when he sat down to have a beer on the tracks out back and dozed off a bit. “It sure was a terrible thing.” Said big Jimmy shaking his head. “The whole town knew something bad happen when they heard the train breaks lock up.”

“Yeah it sure was terrible.” Says old Danny Taylor. “I was out on the porch having a smoke and I heard it . I live clear up in Wyalusing almost 10 miles away. A long load of fracking sand is hard to stop at 45 miles an hour.” “Yeah that sure is sad.” I say. “Yeah the whole town was down there almost..Ill never forget it.” said big Jimmy shaking his head.

“Billy lives down by the tracks now in the trailer doing the best he can to take care of his mother. I give him a warm plate on the house when he stops by some times All he seems to do is hang out in that old tin shed. I went down one time to see if I could borrow some gas for the lawn mower.” Says big Jimmy. “All they have in there is an old wheel horse tractor and some old paint cans. Billy sits in there on rusted out folding chair next to a big buddy propane heater. Says he likes to sit in there and think. So I didn’t push anything or get nosy on a guy who likes to think and all.” “Yeah I don’t blame you.” I say.

Gloria Mansfield knew what Billy was doing in the shed. Gloria was the Baptist preacher’s wife and Sunday school teacher at the big church in town. Some Baptists tend to run a tight ship on moral regulations. Living in a glass house plus home schooling your children in the Christian way can be stressful at times keeping up with expectations. A friend who pretends not to know you at the liquor store and a place in hiding to have a drink to take the edge off some makes a world of difference on how well you carry the Lord’s heavy cross he laid down on your shoulders.

Gloria found her new hiding spot from the pressure of the ministry and the kids when she walked over to Billy Mott’s to borrow some white paint to finish off the garden fence she was working on. Since then she went back a bunch more times to borrow things, then stayed to chat and have a swig , and a few quick visits turned into an hour or so long therapy sessions.

Billy Mott was a good listener and Gloria would unload all her burdens. She talked about gossip, church dissension, and even her love life. It didn’t even bother good Billy Mott when she started naming names. He wouldn’t say a thing as he sat thinking. But the day the big box came things started to change up a bit for the better.

What’s in the the box you got there Billy Mott?” asked Gloria. “Anyways, I brought your snow shovel back.” She leaned the shovel against the shed wall and went to the corner shelf and grabbed her flask from behind the paint cans. Gloria then climbed up on the lawn tractor seat, sitting backward letting her feet dangle over it’s back wheels. “Well come on! Open it up and see what you got.” She said taking a swig. “I’m not sure what it could be.” Mumbled Billy.

Billy Mott brush off the snow from the big box and squinted to slowly read the label. “ From: Warren D. Mott 126 Corporate Drive Plano Texas..Yeah its from Uncle Warren..he’s rich.” Said Billy. “Well Open it up Billy!” Said Gloria jumping down off the tractor. She found an old metal paint can opener and handed it to Billy. “Here cut the tape with this.” Billy sliced though all 4 layers of tape as whoever packed the box up did a great job. Brown wrapping paper filled the box as packing and in side that two objects wrapped in white tissue paper. With paper flying Billy reached in and unwrapped the gifts inside. He held up the first object, a western cowboy boot and a second just like it to make a pair.

”Wow..they sure a beautiful! Hey Billy look there! The tag is still on them. What are they worth.” Billy squinted and read the tag Uncle Warren must have forgot to remove. “$350.00” Billy read. Now Billy did not own hardly anything that was $350 dollars. Let alone boots. “Well try them on!” pushed Gloria taking another swig from her flask. Billy slipped in one foot and they looked like $350.00 but a bit tight. Gloria pointed out that at the factory they wad up paper and place them in the toes to hold the form.

Billy took off his boot, knocked out the paper and slipped it back on. It was a little loose now but perfect if he wore wool socks. “Nice!” Said Billy as he stood there looking down admiring his 350.00 boots. “Yeah real nice!” said Gloria. “Well I’ll need to hide these from mom. She would sell them on me I know. I’ll just leave them out here and wear them for special things maybe.” Said Billy still looking down and wiggling his toes.

Billy Mott needed a reason to wear his $350.00 boots. Like some place he could go special where his mother would not be with him. He thought about it some over the next few days. On the TV Billy’s mom love watching the country music channel, and as she fell asleep with a beer and cigarette in her hand Billy would watch to, and one night he had an idea when he seen a beautiful county girl in real nice boots teach country line dance steps. “I could learn the Achy Breaky.” Billy thought. He scribbled down step directions of what he could real quick on an old CVS receipt.

Back then everyone was doing the Achy Breaky and if you were doing all of that with a bunch of people and if some of those people were pretty girls even better. “ Well folks will pick on me and all so I would have to learn some in the shed just to see. I mean I wouldn’t think of doing anything like that in public. Hell way out here they don’t even country line dance.” It was 10 p.m. and cold that night, but Billy Mott went to the shed, pushed out the tractor, and laid down a 4ft by 8ft rotted out particle board on the floor.

Billy bought the cassette tape of Billy Ray from the Walt-Mart store and dug though the junk drawer in the trailer and found his old walk-men. Under his bed in a box of electronics and playboy magazines he found his two speaker boom box. “Where you going with that?” asked mom. No where special.” Said Billy “ Can you run to the gas station and get me some smokes dear? Here is a Twenty. Get yourself a soda with what’s left..there should be a dollar twenty five left after taxes for you. And for the love of all that is holy stay away from the damn tracks!” “Ok will do Mum.” said Billy, stuffing the twenty in his pocket. He stopped by the shed, cleared a shelf of paint cans, and set the boom box down then headed to the store.

For the next few weeks leading up to Christmas Billy Mott would practice the Achy Breaky Heart in the shed in his Three-Hundred and fifty dollar boots off the steps he had written on the faded CVS receipt just like the pretty girl in boots said on TV. “Step right to side, cross left behind right, step right to side, hold Bump hips left, right, left, hold Touch right toe back, touch right toe forward, cross/touch right over left, Unwind ¾ left (weight to right) Step left back, step right back Hitch left knee turn ¼ left, step left together..” Gloria came back to borrow the snow shovel again and seen Billy practicing dance steps though the cracked window of the rusted shed. The tractor was pushed outside. The catchy sound of Achy Breaky could be heard though the empty screw holes in the wall.

”What are you up to Billy?” Said Gloria, surprising the tall skinny string bean of a man in three-hundred and fifty dollar cowboy boots. Billy froze. Gloria hit the stop button on the tape deck and got her flask and opened up the folding chair next to the heater and sat down and took a sip. “ It’s ok Billy Mott. I won’t tell anyone what’s going on and I am not going to pick on you one bit. From what I have seen here you are one good dancer. Now get back over there and we’ll go from the top! I would dance to help you but I’m Baptist and I’m not allowed to dance and all. Okay you ready? From the top” Gloria rewound the tape and hit play.

”You can tell the world you never was my girl You can burn my clothes when I’m gone Or you can tell your friends just what a fool I’ve been And laugh and joke about me on the phone..” sang Billy Ray though the boom box speakers.

There was not much Billy Mott could do but go along with what was going on and so he did the steps the best he could with what he had memorized off the CVS receipt with Gloria clapping in time. He was messing up the fourth and last part of the steps as he was just getting that part down.. Turn ¼ right and step right forward, stamp left together. Turn ½ left and step left forward, stamp right together …and that was it the receipt had ripped loosing the rest of the steps.

“ I’m missing a section. Said Billy stopping. “The last section. I had it written down but..” “oooh Hell! Come on Billy I’ll show you.” Gloria took a swig from her flask “We can do it together.” Said Gloria smiling. “But I thought you didn’t..” “ Never mind I practiced at home a bit…if you don’t tell I won’t tell.” Gloria stood next to Billy Mott. “Now that last part your missing is Step right to side, cross left behind right, step right to side, stomp left together then clap. Like this!” Gloria did a run though. “Okay from the top!”

The sun was setting low on that short winter day by time Gloria and Billy Mott wearing his three hundred and fifty dollar boots had all the steps to the Achy Breaky line dance down. The good Baptist preacher was just finishing up the sermon in his study while he also kept an eye on the kids. “Back from the women’s bible study already dear?” asked the good minister as Gloria came in. “ Yeah I had a real nice time. I’ll start dinner.”

Billy ran though the steps a few more times back at the shed and he had it nailed down like roofing paper. “ I bet I could go on TV right now.” Billy Mott fantasized. The crowd went wild in his head as he finished up the last steps and took a bow. Tomorrow night was Christmas eve. On every Christmas eve they had free Jukebox night over at Millie’s Bar. Billy Mott thought he might wear his three hundred dollar boots to the event. That is if his mum didn’t go.

A light snow was falling when Billy Mott made it to the Millie’s bar Christmas eve. Mom decided to stay home so Billy made a quick change into his Three Hundred and fifty dollar boots out at the shed and walked up to town. There was just a small crowd there so far when Billy Mott came in and sat up to the bar. Chuck the owner was working the bar and passed Billy Mott a beer. Billy went to reach into his pocket to pay but Chuck waved it off. “Naww first one is on me Billy Mott. Merry Christmas!” “Thanks Chuck. Merry Christmas to you also.” “How’s Mom? She doing okay?” Asked Chuck. ‘ Hanging in there.” replied Billy “Well tell her I said hello!” “ Ok will do Chuck. Thanks so much for all you do for us and this town.” Said Billy Mott. “ None of that. Shut up and drink your beer before it gets warm and I charge you for it.” said Chuck smiling.

As the night moved on more folks from town filed into Millie’s. The Jukebox was playing non stop and folks were catching up with each other, Milkman Dan talking farm stories with Eddie Baker, Big Jimmy talking shop with Dave from the hardware store, and Mike the Mailman hitting on the bar girls and buying attention with his large tips. It was sure cozy in the happy dimly lit Millie’s bar there in small town Christmas eve. It was 9:00 p.m. when someone played the Achy Breaky.

Billy knew it was 9:00 P.M. when they played the Achy Breaky Christmas Eve at Millie’s bar that night because the song came on just as he was two beers in and was getting ready to head back home to the trailer with mom. He checked the time. At the very start of Achy Breaky, for Billy Mott, the whole world stopped for a bit as he felt conflicted in his mind on just what to do. It might have been the two beers he had that lowered his inhibition making him feel brave, maybe the small town Christmas cheer he felt, or some once in a life time opportunity he was confronted with, but for some reason he went to the center of the bar floor in his three hundred and fifty dollar boots to do the Achy Breaky.

The first time though went smooth as butter. Folks were still talking but got real quite when they discovered Billy Mott doing the steps so perfect in time almost as if he had been practicing. It was total concentration in Billy Motts head. All he could hear was the music, folks clapping in time, and Gloria’s counting in his mind. He finished it out ith ease, a state so perfect, like a reflex. At the end the music stopped. No one said a word. You could hear a pin drop. “What the hell did I just see? Hey Dan play that again! Will you?” Yelled Chuck before anyone could move or say a word.

”You can tell the world you never was my girl You can burn my clothes when I’m gone Or you can tell your friends just what a fool I’ve been And laugh and joke about me on the phone..”

Billy Mott stepped the whole thing out perfect. This time the bar girls came in beside him and his Three Hundred and fifty dollar boots and did the line dance. Billy Mott was almost in heaven as everyone clapped in time.

“Don’t tell my heart my achy breaky heart…

I just don’t think he’d understand

And if you tell my heart my achy breaky heart

He might blow up and kill this man…”

Turn ¼ right and step right forward, stamp left together Turn ½ left and step left forward, stamp right together Step right to side, cross left behind right, step right to side, stomp left together clap.

At the end everyone at Millie’s bar gave a big cheer and clapped loud for Billy Mott. The two girls turned him red by each giving him a kiss on the cheek and everyone put in for another round and bought Billy Mott a beer. “How Much for the boots?” Yelled a voice from the back. The whole place went silent. “ They are not for sale Dan! Mind your own business.” Yelled Chuck from the Bar. “ He’s a grown man he can answer for himself.” Said Milkman Dan. “Don’t know.” Said Billy Mott. How much will you give me for them. They were a gift to me.” Said Billy as he finished his beer.

”I’ll give you one hundred and fifty cash right now.” said Milkman Dan. “Come on Dan you’ll need to do better then that. Leave the guy alone!” Chuck said annoyed. Billy Mott remembered he didn’t get his mum a gift. Even though she smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish she did make sure he got lunch every day. French toast every morning with coffee and one can of condensed chicken noodle soup with one half can of water added to fill the bowl with a side of toast. If Billy Mott didn’t buy her a gift no one else would and it was up to him to look after his mum if he was a real man. “Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” he mumbled to himself.

” Alright you have a deal.” Said Billy Mott slipping off the three hundred fifty dollar boots. Billy Mott stood at the bar in his wool socks as Milkman Dan counted out the money. Once in hand Billy Mott turned to Chuck and said. “One case of Coors Light please.” “No way!” said Chuck ‘Not doing it!” “I didn’t get Mum a gift and she likes drinking Coors. So one case of Coors light please Chuck.” Chuck slowly walked to the back cold room shaking his head. He returned and placed the case of beer on the bar as Billy paid him. After paying, and with the case of beer under his arm he spent the rest of the money on tickets over at the big lotto machine, folded them all up, and went out the door into the wet snow and rain. They say the last song played to close down Millie’s bar that night was one by old John Prine:

”For pity’s a crime and it ain’t worth a dime to a person who’s really in need, Just treat them the same as you would your own name next time that your heart starts to bleed. “

We are all not to sure what happened after that but some say there were foot prints all the way back to the trailer from Milly’s bar that night. Also we heard later that Gloria felt the good Lord telling her to take up a collection at the church to send down to Billy Mott.  Now there might not be a shed, a Millie’s bar, or a Billy Mott. But there was for sure a pair of three hundred and fifty dollar pair of boots that went a long way to making folks happy that Christmas. This is my story about my town so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.

It was two nights before Thanksgiving and cold. The flames licked out of the tops of both running kilns. My eyes was getting tired from checking the peep holes because a watched cone never drops. I had the whole show to fire out and if things went bad I truly would have a Blue Christmas and so would my customers.

They left me off the hook last year when I over fired a shelf of 20 mugs because I fell asleep and missed shutting the kiln down by 15 minutes. The clay blistered some and started to bloat. I was honest and went online and showed them all. “It’s ok!” they said. ” They can be called COVID mugs!” So I put ten dollars on each for gas money and the safe ones sold out first before the good pots. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong working so hard. But I needed to pay attention this year. The cone in the first kiln dropped around 11:00 pm and the larger kiln fired on.

Cones never lie. I had to tell myself that as the kiln fired on well past shut down time of 12:00 a.m. I was doing 15 minute checks. I stayed outside by the kilns thinking the cold would keep me from dozing off. I had the alarm running on my phone. At 1:00 a.m. I thought I could see a slight bend in the cone and maybe Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I had to shut down the kiln and blow in the peep hole to be sure I was seeing the cone and not the edge of some mug. In the fires at the end everything looks the same at times. There is was a slight bend. Thirty more minutes to shutdown.

Morning came quick. It was 7:00 a.m. when I pulled in at the Right Choice Diner for French Toast. I had to park out back by the railroad track as the street parking was filled up. The back dumpster was piled high with bags falling out and three stray cats were licking bacon grease off a paper towl. I walked through the laundry on the line and up the creeky wooden back steps where Missy was having a smoke outside the screen door.

“Hey Miss! Nice to see you. You all look busy.” She had little turkeys on her nails. If you were not sure what holiday was on the way you could tell off Missy’ s nails. “Yeah. This is my first break since 4:00 a.m. It’s been crazy. Hey just between me and you thanks for the money you sent over. I was able to get the books I need for my accounting classes. I have one more semester. But don’t do that shit again.” “Your welcome Miss.” I say.

” You let Robbie out from under that car, or is he still up there pinned?” I ask. “Naww I let him out. He was yelling like a stuck pig but he won’t kick me out and make me walk again.” “Yeah we all heard about that.” ” Well thanks again Alfie. Not to many guys like you around . Go on in and I’ll get you your mug and a coffee. You getting the usual or is it French toast today?” “French toast today Miss. The kilns gave me a bad time last night.” “Yeah you do look tired.” “Yeah if I do good at this sale we’ll run off together ok? ” “Haa! You tell me that before every show. Well you know where I am!”

There was one seat left at the counter it was next to old man Bob. He had pins of honor on his Vietnam Veteran hat and local fire company patches on his coat. “Morning Bob. Thanks for your service. It’s a hopping place this morning. You all ready for Thanksgiving?” ” Yeah we are heading south to see the grandkids a few days. It only an hour or two drive but I’m having my wife drive. I hate driving.”

” So what was going on up the hill last night. I thought I heard the fire trucks last night while I was out there with the kilns.” I ask. ” There was a bad trailer fire up on Charlie Skillets place. His kid there ..ohh what do they call him..Buttons ..yeah.. they said Buttons was up there cooking meth they thought. Brought him out in cuffs but his girlfriend and the baby might not make it.” “Aww that’s terrible.” “Yeah they had trucks from three different counties up there and four on standby.”

Miss was back and poured me a coffee. ” Hey Bob can you pass the creamers please if you don’t mind?” “Sure here you are.. I left three for you.” ” Aww what a nice guy. I’ll have to forget all the terrible things I heard about you.” “What’s going on with the garbage out back? Drivers on strike?” ” No they can’t find enough drivers to work. Big Jimmy was just out here saying it’s been two weeks since they been by.” “Well the cats out there are ok with the set up.” ” And the coons to!” laughed Bob.

The coffee was strong, and the French toast warm. And all the Blue Christmas pots were cooling in the kilns. I just hoped not to fast. Things were moving slow it seemed. I went home and put up the Christmas tree in the shop while the neighbor’s guinea hens chased a dog around the yard. A smell of wood smoke was in the frosty air and dark snow clouds hung low and heavy in the sky.

Today I got real lucky. I was sceduled for an overtime day at the paper factory but they had a staffing mix up and everyone showed up for the team so they asked if I wanted to stay or leave. I added up everything in mugs and realized just four wearboards of mugs would more then pay me back for the day if I chose to go back home. It felt great to tell them I already thought of ten things I would rather be doing and got up and left.

I stopped off at the Diner for breakfast and my normal order was the special and they still needed a cook . Sarah was working today. She was filling in for Missy. But she did remember I was the pottery guy and got me my mug. Not that I’m picky at all and I would take any mug with a coffee if they didn’t know as they work to hard to worry about custom accommodations.

I ask Sarah where Miss is and she fills me in on the fair and foul time the poor lady had the last two days. Missy got in a big fight with her jerk boyfriend and he kicked her out of his car and made her walk an hour and forty minutes home. Missy would like to leave but with working only at the Diner and taking care of the kids it was not enough to have her own place so she puts up with it.

Sarah pours me coffee . She said they were out of regular creamers but they had vanilla. I would have gave Miss a ride but I was working and all.” I say. “Well she got him back good .” How’s that ? I ask. “Well Miss caught him under the car changing the muffler..she said they need the whole thing from the manifold back..and he was under there and she slowly lowered the floor jack and put the transmission on his chest. She pinned the big jerk under there good. ”

“Aww no..” I say “She kill the guy? ” Naww he was going on yelling and swearing so she thought he would be fine she came in for the 3 to 7 shift. She has a camera app to watch. They got it put in because they thought someone might be stealing gas. She watched him the whole shift on her phone as she washed the dishes to make sure he was still moving. ” “Yeah those cameras can be great to have if you need to watch things at home I guess.” I say. “Well maybe we need to take up a collection and help her out. I have some money from the pottery I could put in. ” “Yeah that would be nice but you know she wouldn’t take anything. She’s a fighter .

Old man Parker stopped in for his eggs over easy with toast and coffee. He leans in to me and says ..”You sure had some action up your way didn’t you? ” Nope. I say ” I didn’t hear a thing I was working . What’s going on? ” Well Linda Jennings was driving up past your pottery there and she hit that pit bull that runs around up there. She said she knocked him good and it damaged her car. She pulled over and went to the house to talk to someone about it all . ” “Yeah ..I know that dog . He’s a friendly guy . Sleeps out there by the road on the warm days. I had to ask the Smiths up there to put him in when I have the shows and all and they do a good job. He still living? ” I ask.

” Yeah..oooh yeah..he living alright. Linda knocked on the door and the dog cornered her on the porch for a good 30 minutes..Mrs. Smith had a real bad time calling him off. Even if she twitched the dog would growl. ” Yeah I guess that would be scary. Pit bulls can be problem if they get injured. ” ” Well Sarah I need to go glaze pots if you see Missy tell her to shoot me a pm. ” Ok says Sarah ” Have the best day ever.” Thanks ! I will .

Things were cloudy and bit cool outside. It looked like rain. The gas company comes today to put in a new tank and I need to start the pots for the Christmas show.

There might not be a Bob or an Old Man Parker. But there was a real stray dog. This could be something that might happen in a small town near you if you only take the time to look.  Story elements are everywhere. Hiding under carpets, in closets, under beads. We just need to go find them all, stuff them in a bag then dump them all out on some life table and look at what we have collected.  This is my story, so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.

 

When I stop in at the diner on the way home after night shift Missy the waitress gets me my own mug off the rack and fills it with coffee. She lets me fall asleep in it a bit before she asks if I would like the usual. Two eggs over easy, two pieces of rye toast, one pancake, and bacon.
Missy says winter is on the way..it might be a bad one…the coyote’s tails are real bushy this year..she saw one cross the road on the way in.. She don’t like the snow, as it’s hard for her to walk with her hip the way it is. She was in a car accident a few years back and now walks with a limp.
Charlie, the owner of the bar Eva’s stops by at 8:00 am for a ham and cheese omelette. Charlie had a rough time the other night after closing. A patron while walking home fell over a bank. He was found sleeping in the rose bushes by a lady walking her dog so she called it in to 911. When Jimmy woke to flashing lights, he refused treatment and thought he would be ok to finish the walk. The police decided to take him in because he had the same issue a few months back and was let off with a warning. Jimmy got a large fine, we all were told.
Missy is getting her hair done today and maybe her nails. She chipped one on the screen door when she went out for a smoke real quick while on break. If I needed anything, I could just ring the bell..she told me all of that while refilling my coffee.
Good Morning America on the TV said more rain, they started cutting corn over on the Miller farm, and I have pots to fire out.

My Pottery Management Tools:

I spent the afternoon avoiding pottery to create worksheets and journal print-outs that you can clip into a three ring binder that should better help you track your clay journey.
I created PDF of each sheet so you can print them individually and put them in your binder as needed.  Below is a description of each sheet and some background information on how to fill it in.  Even though I am not getting anything done due to procrastination, I do hope the sheets can help at least one of you in some way.

My Pottery Goals:

The “My Pottery Goals” worksheet has section to fill in ten year goals, five year goals, three year goals, and one year goals.  The ten-year goals can allow you to dream big.  Write in where you might wish to be.  All of these goals can change as you move forward, so no need to worry about what you put in as long as it is something you dream of achieving. As you narrow down the years you can also work to refine the goals more for the short term to make actionable steps to the over all big goal.  The one-year goal can be made by comparing advancements or opportunity areas to last year. Be sure to fill in as much as you can, as each day when you do tasks in the next worksheet, you can see if those tasks and projects you do either help you towards where you would like to be or not.  This helps to weed out those annoying projects you might take on because you are not able to say no.  I have to admit that I am still working on this with custom orders. But at least now I have some type of framework to follow step by step even in small ways and to assess how far I have come and what I might need more practice in.

I have also included your “Why”. Your “Why” needs to be more than passion.  As when you lose a kiln load of mugs you might not feel all that passionate about making pots but you still need to do the work and be action driven to reach your goal even on the bad days.  There are some great posts on finding your “why”. I discuss the topic in my post on balancing work and pottery here.

Another section I felt was important was to include ” If I live to be 86 from today , I have _____ days left.”  This section sounds a bit morbid, but I thought adding the idea of just how short life is and how we spend our time was very important.  Time is something we spend and give each day and a thing we never make up or give back.  When we are born we have a full “bank account” that dwindles down each day.  So knowing and seeing the end along with our long and short term goals might help us reevaluate and choose better what we will spend time on and how we tell our story.


My Pottery Journal:

This idea came from Donald Miller and his Story brand/ Business Made Simple website for business leaders.  I took a workshop on business and loved it. I reformatted the journal page to fit the artist and those who enjoy pottery so they could work to have some type of direction planning their daily tasks.  On the Journal page, there is space to list 3 critical tasks. It is thought that any more than three tasks becomes a distraction and can make one feel overwhelmed. These three tasks should be tasks that are critical to your pottery and towards your goals.  It is always important to review your goals each day.  Next are the secondary tasks.  These are small tasks that you can do that do not require much effort.  Then comes your reward for working so hard.  This section is called “Things I get to enjoy.” Here, be sure to schedule in a few things that you do that is relaxing. This section is also a good place to write in what you are grateful for.  The fourth section is “If I was living yesterday over, I would have..” This section gives you another chance to look at some things you might need to improve on and begin break cycles that hold you back.  This idea comes from the writer Victor Frankel and his book “Man’s Search For Meaning” .   The “Summery” section of the journal sheet allows you to write down any thoughts or ideas you might have about the previous day or the one that is to come.  The last section of the “”My Pottery Journal” page is that question again “If I live to be 86…”  just to remind us once more just how precious time is.  Lastly, there is a question on if you are enjoying life or not. I do hope you are!


My Pottery Project:

This journal print out page is for those projects you wish to start and keep track of. In the large open section you can draw out sketches of your idea and in the bottom of that section there is a list of art descriptions to help you think about what to add to your work to make it communicate better.  Some of those terms are form, shape, texture, asymmetry, negative space, functionality, and a few others.  The middle section allows you to write in the project name, due date, clay type, glaze, and important dates dealing with firings. At the bottom is a notes section where you can jot down ideas that come to you while you work things out.  Having theses all in a binder will allow you to flip back and forth to see due dates for planning, project progress, and your work has evolved.


My Pottery Kiln Log:

I made up this sheet to make it easier to keep track of firings. When holes are punched in the sheet it can be put in the binder for future reference.  Even if the power goes out you will still have good records of your kiln that you can go back and look at to make changes or to run the same program or schedule.  Simply place a dot on the grid and mark the time and temperature when you check your kiln.  You will be able to see if your kiln is staying on schedule or if you need to make adjustments.  When starting to use a sheet I would fire normally to get a good centerline record of what the kiln does.  That way you might be able to detect issues earlier if you see things going out of the base centerline schedule.    At the bottom of the “My Pottery Kiln Log” is a section to write in the time, warm up , soak, and other important information. The note section will allow you to write in observations or learnings you had while firing, any changes you made, or what issues you might have had during the firing.


My Pottery Troubleshooting Guide:

I wanted to include this in with the packet to make it easier to think through issues you might run into. The system I used is one that is used in manufacturing, and it is called the 6W2H.
By asking Where, When, Why, What, Who, Which, How, and How much, problems can be narrowed down and bring you to root cause. This video explains 6W2H at length if you can withstand to hear the robot reading to you. The middle section of the troubleshooting worksheet allows you to put in the root cause when you find it and what you did to fix it.  I also placed in a section for part numbers,  help numbers, and other important information so if the issue happens again you will have a sheet on file right in your binder. This will save you time by saving what the fix was rather than trying to remember.  This sheet also can help with reminding you to do preventive maintenance, or doing checks on things before they fail, causing you downtime before that big show.

The full “My Pottery” packet of PDFs can be downloaded below for free at no cost to you!  Let me know how I can make it better and also let me know if it helps you in any way.  Now I need to go make pots as I am way behind.  Happy potting!

PDF sheets for download are listed below:

MyPotteryGoals
mypotterykilnlog
mypotteryproject
potterytroubleshooting
mypotteryjournal

If you enjoy these worksheets sheets and tools, you may also like the Pottery Cost Analysis sheet I made up here.

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.