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.

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.

Glaze of Our Lives: A  Story of Passion and Reduction

Johnny Cash the pottery cat takes a nap on a few mugs. Delores finds a date maybe.


After  Johnny Cash blew by Jimmy’s leg in his mad dash out the studio door into the great wide open, he  ran to the large oak tree by the fence and  sniffed around some then  laid down to relax in the grass. The sparrows were  darting in and out  between the branches and  a red wing black bird  squacked to scold him. 

It was quite easy being a pottery cat. Johnny Cash had Delores right where he wanted her.  Their history went way back. Johnny Cash was a gift to Delores  from her husband Bill  when he was just a kitten.  Bill  just finished  trimming with the weed Wacker  along the side walk when he thought he heard a fait  meow.  Bill turned off the loud motor  and walked  to the  curb  where the trash was set out.  He  set down the wacker picked up the bag of garbage and under it was the smallest black kitten he ever seen.

Bill took the cat to the house to show Delores.  She was smitten by the cute  little fur ball. The kitten looked starved so they pored it some warm milk . The little guy lapped  up the milk and was still for a long time .   Bill and Delores were worried  and  poked the  cat a little and  made sure he was breathing.  “Awww!” said Delores ” I think he is sleeping right there in  his milk.”   All of this happend five months and  six days  after they found the lump  on Bill’s neck.  Five months and six days  because that is how fast the cancer spread .

The doctors tried everything possible but  the lump was found to late.  It was Johnny Cash the pottery cat that would curl up on the  lap of the slowly dying man ,  both warmed by an electric  blanket to ward off  the chills. Delores  sat by and cared for them both , lightly stroking Johnny Cash’s soft black fur to ease anziety as she  did what she could to make her dying husband comfortable  until the bitter end. 

The undertaker  drove  the herse slowly  to the cemetery on that cold rainy  day in October  when they laid Bill in the grave.  It would be months before  Delores  felt like going back to the studio again. Everything she seen reminded her of  Bill. He built the  drying shelves, her kneading table,  even put  in the glaze booth. Cobwebs grew in  her throwing bucket and rack of mugs went bone dry without being handled.

By Spring  Delores thought  she might try to go back down to the pottery studio to just have a look with Johnny  Cash  the cat circling  underfoot.  Delores started making pots again  slowly. First only one mug  was all she could  take . She looked at  the  lonely form turning slowly on her wheel , her heart sank with grief  and tears streamed from her eyes. She just had to make another mug, Bill would want her to. Before long one mug turned into one wearboard  of mugs, which turned into one shelf. She found creating therapeutic. 

Back out in the yard under the tree  Johnny Cash thought he heard a truck pull in. He raced to the frount steps  and found it was the UPS delivery man. The sound of the UPS delivery man ment that Johnny Cash would get face and belly rubs and at times a treat .  By time  the black cat  made it to the steps Delores was already signing for  her package.  “Aww whose a good boy?” said the  short stout delivery man as he seen Johnny Cash trot  through his legs purring.


Johnny Cash  made sure he did some cute rolls at his feet and was rewarded by belly rubs and face scratches. ” Your getting to be a big kitty!  I have a  surprise for you!” The  UPS man reached into his shirt pocket and gave Johnny Cash  three treats from a Frisyies bag.  ” He’s almost  twenty pounds now ” said Delores.  “But he still manages to climb all over and knock things off shelves. He’s a big clumsy boy.  Aren’t you Mr. Cash?”  The delivery man laughed “He sure is a just  big  fluff ball! Well I need to run! Have a great day ! ” He turned and walked back to his truck.  A small piece of paper floated across the lawn and Johnny Cash  seen the movement and playfully pinned it down with his paw then sat on it.  ” What are you hiding Mr. Cash?” said Delores as she picked  up the large cat.
 

Johnny Cash hung over Delores ‘s arm like a large over stuffed purse while she  opened  and read the paper.

” Dear Delores,

I  would find it enjoyable if at some  time you would join me for a coffee. I know you have been though a lot but whenever you are  ready just let me know. ”

It was not signed anywhere. Delores flipped the paper over  to see if  there was a name or number on the back.  But it was just written on a sales receipt from the gas station. Whoever wrote the note also bought $50.00 worth of gas and a  soda. Johnny  Cash started to growl  and  scratch at  Delores’s arm with his hind legs as a signal  to be let down. She dropped him to the ground as she thought about the note. ” Hummm..I wonder if…”  Delores  said out loud as she folded up the paper and put it in her pocket.

Johnny Cash  had already ran back  inside to the studio and made a jump for the fourth drying rack up but missed mostly and hung on by his two front paws. Straining  but  determined  the large cat found footing on a  freshly made wet  vase to give him a lift , knocking it into 3 others  as they all plopped  to the floor bats and all.  Pleased with himself he then stretched out on  six of eighteen  mugs that all caved to his form under the weight  like a memory foam mattress.  It seemed he preferred the pots just before leather hard stage, but not wet.

“Johnny Cash! You get down! Bad kitty! ” Delores  yelled when she seen him reclining  with ease  up on the shelf on the pots now all mangled and dented into a somewhat cat form. ” Why do you have to be so bad! Those were custom orders! Scat!” She yelled. It was almost a game to Mr. Cash as no matter how mad Delores got he always seemed to land on his feet with her. He  jumped from the shelf  as if inconvenienced,  and lumbered away with his tail in the air.  “Ohhh noo…your such a bad kitty! That was alot of work you just messed up! Now get!” Delores begain to pick up the mess. But in the back of her mind she wonderd about the note . Maybe it was time to get a coffee.

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.

 

Delores accidentally flashes her new apprentice. The beautiful Janice is lonely.

 

Delores hit the dismiss button on her phone when the alarm woke her at 7:00 am. She wanted to get an early start to the day. She sat up on the edge of her bed and slid on her bright green crocks. The sun was already up and the rays were shining though the curtains as she walked into the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee. Delores looked through the cupboard, then went to the dishwasher and pulled a mug from the top rack. There was a slight crack in the bottom like every mug she owned, almost. While she waited for the coffee maker to drip out she turned the mug over and looked at the glaze. “This came out quite nice” she said to herself, ” I have to make another run of these at some point. ” She poured herself a coffee and then sat at the kitchen table. Her black cat Johnny Cash purred against her chair and gave her leg a slight headbutt. “Awww your a sweet boy Mr. Cash” Delores scratch is ears and rubbed his face.

Delores reached for her journal and planner she kept on the table, next to the sugar jar and a cup of spoons. The planner set was a gift from her mother , who thought she needed to be more organized. Delores flipped to a new crisp page and wrote in the date. Under Three Primary Tasks she wrote “throw three wear boards of mugs.” That would be the primary tasks. “Simple enough.” She thought. For Secondary Tasks, she wrote. “Dust and clean the shop.” The next heading on the page was “Things I get to enjoy” Delores wrote in “Weed and water garden” and for the section ” If I was living a second time” Delores had to think a some as she had plenty of regrets and she was not sure what she should put down. She smirked and wrote in ‘Merry a doctor.” Pleased with herself at the joke she gave a slight laugh and closed the planner. It was at that point she felt a scratch and slight nip on her leg which startled her and made her jump. Coffee spilled all down the front of her t-shirt and on to her shorts. “Johnny Cash be a good boy please!” She yelled. The black cat ran out from under the table with its tail held high as if he was pleased with himself for causing a ruckus. “Well I better get dressed.” Delores said to herself out loud.

Delores was putting her last leg in her jeans when she heard a faint knock on the door to her pottery shop downstairs. “No..no.no! ” She said to herself. She tossed on her shirt and closed up three buttons with time no for the forth. “No..no.nooo!” She slipped into her crocks and raced downstairs through her clay studio and into the pottery shop. “ohh.. noo.. ohh..noo! I totally forgot.!” She took a split second to compose herself the best she could. She gathered up her long black hair and flipped it back over then under to ponytail it in place, took a deep breath, then answered the door. “Are you d..d..d..d..Delores m..m..m..Mitchell?” Stuttered the tall skinny young man at the door.

He seemed shy and nervous. He held out his hand that was shaking a little. ” I’m ja..ja… Jimmy ma..ma Martin ..I’m here from Smithfield University and my professor said you asked for help at your pottery and that I wa..wa.. would be working with you through the work sta..sta..study program.. this is right place. Right? ” Delores lightly shook Jimmy’s cold clammy hand “Yes ! This is the right place Jimmy ! Pleased to meet you. I thought you were starting next week Monday but here you are!” “Yes ma’am! Sa..sa..saa..Sorry Ms. Mitchell I studder some when I get nervous..” said Jimmy. Delores smiled to set him at ease ” That’s fine Jimmy come on in and have a seat.

Jimmy brush his brown shaggy hair from his eyes and pushed up his glasses. Just then, the big black cat Mr. Cash made a run between Delores’s legs and raced out the open door. Jimmy tried to block the path with his long leg but the cat was having none of it. “Johnny Cash!!! You get back here!” Yelled Delores. “Ohh noo s..s..s..sorry about that.” Jimmy said as he regained his balance. “No bother Jimmy, I try to keep him in but he always seems to be on the wrong side of every door. ”

 

 

Jimmy followed Delores through the shop and into the studio. Delores pushed Jimmy a chair from behind her trimming wheel and he stopped it with this foot and sat down. Delores wheeled over another chair to have an onboarding chat with her new apprentice that came a week early. Jimmy’s face was red and he looked down to avoid eye contact. It was almost like he was embarrassed about something. “It sure is na..na nice out today.” said Jimmy looking at the floor. ” Your place was easy to fa..fa,, find. I drove right here.”

It was then Delores realized she needed her planner that was upstairs on the kitchen table. “Jimmy can you wait here one moment I need to run upstairs. I’ll be right back.” Delores raced back upstairs to the kitchen. As she made her way back to the studio downstairs she caught a glimpse of herself in the full length mirror on the door . “Ohhh nooo.” Delores groaned. Only having three buttons closed left her shirt open on top exposing all who cared to look at her cleavage and more. While hurrying to get dressed she skipped putting on her sports bra and simply threw a shirt on over her white coffee stained low cut tank top Delores quickly buttoned up and rushed down the stairs. About half way she felt her phone vibrate a call.

“Hello? Hello..can you hear me? Hello?” said an elderly women’s voice. “Delores dear this is your mother.” Delores gave a sigh “Ohh hi mom ..Ummm I’m in the middle of something right now can I call you back?” It was like her mother didn’t hear her. She continued. ‘Your father and I were at the farmer’s market and we picked you up some nice tomatoes. We’ll be there in 20 minutes dear.” “But mom I’m busy today.” Delores whined. ” Now we won’t stay long I promise. We love you sweety and we will see you in a bit.” said her mother.

Delores didn’t hang up. She knew her mother had a hard time finishing a call on cell and Delores would stay on the line to find out what her mother really thought about a situation from the hot mic effect. “I don’t know why she stays there by herself. If she had a real job I think she would be much happier.” said mother “Ooh Helen leave her alone! ” said her father. “I think she is getting along fine since David passed and you should mind your own business.” ” I know but I just worry about her. It’s a wonder she don’t starve to death. ” said mother before the phone clicked off. “Well at least they try to care .” Delores thought.

Janice was at the shop door bright and early today. She wanted to stop by the pottery to see how the custom order was going for her daughter’s wedding. She had ordered two-hundred candle cups as guest gifts in sea foam green, more green then blue , to be exact, if possible. Her outfit was spectacular for a Friday morning.

The theme was Sunflowers. Janice was dressed in a tight white pencil skirt and fitted top with sunflowers, topped off with a large hat to match. Around the hat was a band of ribbon with sunflower print. White tights and white heels completed the outfit. Janice tilted her large brown sunglasses so she could read the hours on the sign that was on the shop door. It was 20 minutes until the pottery opened. She took off her sunglasses and shielded her eyes to look through the window. She could make out a slim tall man sitting in the studio nervously bouncing his leg. Janice tapped on the glass with her white fingernails. “Hello..anyone there?

Jimmy looked out into the shop when the tapping started. He seen a slim middle-aged woman with red lipstick and sunflower blouse tapping on the door. He got up from his chair, debating on if he should let the well-dressed women in. He didn’t work there yet and was not sure of the hours. He was not sure when Delores would be back. Maybe she lost her planner or something? It sure was taking a long time. The lady at the door was now cupping her hand up against the glass so she could see in. Jimmy paced back and forth a bit not sure what to do. She was now tapping on the glass calling to him.

Maybe he should just sit in another chair and hide? No, that would be quite silly! Just make a decision!” he scolded himself. “What could possibly happen to him if he let that lady in.” He paced faster back and forth, and he could feel his hands getting sweaty. “Well the last time I let someone in it was ok. The UPS women…I had to sign for a package..that went off without a hitch and the world didn’t end. ” Once the decision was agreed upon Jimmy quickly went to the door opened it.

” Hello, my name is Janice, Janice Parker.” The beautiful middle-aged women held out her hand. Jimmy could see at the tips of those white nails were miniature sunflowers that matched the miniature sunflower earrings. The small ankle straps of the white heels also had miniature sunflowers, all of which matched her sunflower purse. He lightly shook Janice’s hand, and she followed him back though the shop and into the studio. Jimmy offered Janice the chair he was sitting in and moved to the other. “This chair is dusty, and I am on my way to a luncheon at the winery with a few of my friends. My dear, do you happen to have a towel or covering I could sit on while I wait. I would hate to get on dust me.” Jimmy looked around and was able to find a clean apron that he draped over the chair for Janice and her sunflowers. The two of them sat quietly waiting for Delores to return like it was a waiting room in a doctor’s office.

Delores was back after ten minutes of awkward silence between Janice and Jimmy. Jimmy had a bead of sweat on his forehead and had anxiety over what he might say. “I’ll be with you shortly, Jimmy.” said Delores. ” Janice, follow me to the back I have about 100 more cups out of the kiln for you to see, and I know you will love them. I have just 25 more to fire out to complete the order. You should have them all 2 month in advance.” Janice followed Delores to the backroom where work from the kilns were unloaded and put on shelves. “These look beautiful Delores! Thanks so much! My little girl is all grown up and she met the most wonderful man and I just want everything to be as perfect as I can get it for her wedding. I already ordered all the flowers, and these little cups on the tables will be the cutest thing for guests to take home.”

Thank you Janice, that is so nice of you to say. I am so glad you like them and I do hope they help make the day special for your daughter and you.” said Delores warmly. Large tears welled up in Janice’s eyes, she pulled a tissue from her sunflower purse and dabbed the corners to stop the large drops from ruining her eyeshadow. “I’m..I’m.. just so lonely out there in that big house..I..I..mean it’s a nice house and I’m not complaining. but..but..I think… I think..I think… my husband Bill hates me!”

Janice was now crying uncontrollably, and Delores gave her a hug and rubbed her back. “I think he might just be busy with everything that’s happening. With medical staff short I’m sure doctors are feeling the pressure.” Janice now had tears of eye shadow running down her face. ” It’s just…It’s just that… in the last two months, he has barely even talked or looked at me.” Janice sobbed. Delores tried to be supportive as she could, “I’m sure everything will be fine and after the wedding, you will both have more time to be together. Let’s go to the shop so you can use the restroom to freshen up a bit. You would not want everyone to see you like this even driving. They would gossip for sure.”

Janice and Delores walked back though the studio and into she shop. As they both passed, Jimmy thought he might have seen Janice wink at him. Now he was not sure but she must have winked because no woman has ever winked at him before, if they did he would have remembered…but yeah that was a wink for sure. Jimmy sat nervous, bouncing his leg while Delores seen Janice out. Jimmy tried to tell himself it was all imagined, or that maybe it was an accident. But if all of that were true, why did it bother him so much?

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.