You can do it! You are ready now! It might take some time and loads of practice and hard work, but in this post I will go over a few things that you can do to make your art cohesive. Making art cohesive is not as necessary as it used to be. Like with the old music industry that went bankrupt, the internet has made it possible for you to show and reach others with your work in very cost-effective ways, eliminating many of the gatekeepers that used to have a grip where and how work was shown. So here is a no bull sh*t approch to creating art in a cohesive way.  There might be grammer and spelling errors but I am an artist and not a teacher so give me a pass maybe for all the free information packed in here for you.  If you do not get anything out of this I’ll be sure to send you a refund at the end.

This article will cover the topic of creating art that is cohesive for those looking to submit work to galleries, shows, venues, platforms, or collectors that require a cohesive body of art work to gain access to their buying community. However, know that if you can buy cars and 52 inch flat screens online and have them delivered to your home, you can also market your art in very much the same way. There is no such thing as talent. Just practice and hard work to build skill.


Build Skills In The Basics

Just like riding a bike, there is no way that you would simply hop on and Lance Armstong it out and get big wins on day one. Creating art that is cohesive takes time to build and to learn skills, techniques, and processes. I have no idea what bad art might be, and only a little about what it is not. But I do know that poorly done work with lack of attention to construction, detail, composition, shape, color, size, materials, texture, line, research, and others can give you a real bad time. I would suggest making a lot of what you make, and then make a lot more of what you make better. Repeat all of that a bunch of times.

It may take fifty, one-hundred, or maybe a thousand or two to get the basics ironed out, but it is very important on your way to creating a cohesive body of art work if you wish. The start to making art cohesive is simply making a lot of bad work as practice, finding and pushing boundaries, finding what might work best, taking chances, putting yourself on the hook, being brave, and working to eliminate any resistance that always crops up. But you can do it! You are ready now! Start by making your first pieces right now! Give yourself permission to mess it up bad and go to it. Just do something! And do it a lot! Once you simply start things will begain to work out and you will feel great creating the work. Even the terrible stuff. It’s all practice.


What To Say To Whom

The next step I would say in making your art cohesive, is after creating a bunch of work, and building the skills in the basics, is to find out who you would like your art to be for and why. Take some of your the strongest work and have a look at it all from way back. Also think about what you wish to say and why. Answering all these whys is very important as it will assist you in whom to show the work to and create work that matters for the folks who care.

No need to make work for everyone but for the minimum viable audience. You only need maybe ten people who care to start. If you are successful in communicating and what you create speaks to that community and they enjoy what you did they might tell another ten folks and before long you have a few raging fans or collectors. It sure makes it easier to sell work or submit pieces to art shows, galleries, art shops, and online platforms if you have some idea what your work might say or how it is read and knowing your “why”. A great book on the topic is “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” by Simon Sinek listed below.

.All of this might take a while to work out and you may ask other how it is read. I would suggest not asking friends and family, as they will lie to you to just make you feel better and not enjoy being honest if they believe what they truly think might cause you to have a bad time. So I would have some folks you might not know, who might be the ideal person the work is for, to give you feedback. Social media groups are real helpful in this area at times. Then, take what those folks say and go back and rework things and show them again. At this point it might be fine to start submitting work to a few shows and galleries as their feedback can be helpful in knowing what they belive you need to improve on, and how well your work is communicating.

After looking at some of your strongest work from way back you might now be able to see some type of themes throughout them all. A cohesive body of art will start to filter out and you will be able to start to see similarities between pieces in a few different ways. At this time it might be good idea to now emphasize those similarities a bit more while at the same time keeping what you wish to say to who in view. Now go make a bunch more work with your discovery of the themes in mind and repeat the process, and then show that finished work that matters to those people who care. You may not get it correct every time, and you may need you to rework things and not feel good about it, but do not stop! Creating work and finishing things no matter how poorly they turn out is far better than all those who simply thought about making work but never did! You’re doing great!!!

 

Layer Up Like An Onion

After practicing your techniques and skills and messing up a lot real bad and taking the least bad that are now good and finding the commonalities it is time to build creating art and a cohesive body of work that is created for a specific reason , with a specific goal, that might say a specific thing to a specific group, to the least viable audience. Since there are a million ways and combinations this may feel overwhelming at first but after you work it out a few times you will become much better at it. For me personally I enjoy layering the work up with technique and meaning so that I am able to communicate with my audience I am trying to reach.

Others may simply have one of two layers to enjoy communicating simplicity. I find it easier to make a list with columns on a paper with those things that you found common in your work. Then list out the thing you might like to say to who using the many techniques, subject manner, lighting, line, sound, symbols, texture, patterns, planes, shape, depth, height, weight, size, history, research, and many other ways to communicate. To me personally good art is simply a form that communicates clearly and/or in some interesting way. Next layer things up in a way that communicates best based on the goals you are trying to achieve.

It is possible to become cluttered and have to much going on in the work to where it is a distraction. But if you chart out the project first you can begin to add or subtract even before you begin taking the time in constructing the actual body of work. At this point it might be good to make up a few small samples, test pieces , or studies to work out a cost analysis and to decide how many to make in the collection on the particular topic and also to begin to help visualize what it might look like.

Can you see the collection in your mind? Visualize how it might be if you walked though a room at a gallery or shop that was filled with your work. How would you want it to feel to the viewer? What can be done to make an impact or to communicate what you might like to say? Once you are able to visualize it in your mind then you might be able to have a better feel for how to set up the collection and the way it communicates. Also think how it can communicate on other platforms, like when on a website for example. How will you shoot photos? What feeling do you want the online viewer to have as they click though the gallery?


Do The Work

With all the planning and testing completed it is now time to do the hard work of doing the work. Actually doing the work can be the most challenging part as many things will start to crop up on why we should not do the work. A lot of resistance and issues will arise that will give us excuses not to complete the project. Self-doubt, imposter syndrome, material issues, issues with technique, and other set backs will stop by every day for coffee but keep going!

After some time when you reached the amount of work that you planned for make a few extra pieces so you have the option to choose what to use to fill out a showing. It is also at this point of doing the work you might want to show others who care about what you are doing what you are working on to build interest and excitement about the project. It might even benefit you to post updates to your email list or do social media posts and live streams of the process to get those who care invested in what you are created and trying to communicate. It is my belief that the total work is the planning, the construction, the showing, and the buyer enjoying it .

Doing the work might take days months or years but be sure at this stage to have good project management as no collection is complete if it is only partially done. And remember at times done is better then perfect. While it is very important to pay attention to details, fine craftsmanship , and technique do not let waiting to release the work until it is perfect become an excuse. Keep working though the dips, both the good times and bad, and wrangle it out.

Doing the work is the most intense part and can be a struggle but keep climbing the mountain. While doing the work take small breaks at certain planned stages along the way to review what you are doing and that you are staying on message and reaching your goals. Reward yourself at certain stages and be kind to yourself. Creating a cohesive body of work is no easy task and sharing work that matters with people who care can feel like your are exposing yourself some to the world but push on you almost are ready to put on the finishing touches and show your work as a collection!


Show The Work

Great job! You did it! Now you have a bunch of work sitting around your studio, basement , or in storage. Now it is time to show your work to people who care if you have not started the process already. Take all that work someplace and set it up and look at the collection all together if you can and start to decide which work should be shown together, separate, or not at all. Some pieces will be stronger then others so take note on those things and why to remember for next time. It might be beneficial at this point to create an artist statement about the work for promoting the work and explaining the project, technique, and ideas and also some background about yourself.

Depending on the platform you might be able to get help with these types of statements based on what the gallery or selling platform requires. It might be beneficial to see how other artists have gone about this process. Planning this all out now will help later and make things run more smoothly if you work should be accepted into a gallery or on a platform for a show. There are a verity of ways to show a collection of work to people who care and one way would be to find a gallery or selling platform that might be a good fit for you and can help you show your collection to people who care. Like writers you should ready yourself for rejections, these rejections can be beneficial as they can provide feedback on what you might need to think about when creating. On the other hand the work and message you are tying to tell may not simply be for them or a good fit so keep going and try not to feel down about things. You have created a cohesive body of work and that is far better then all those who simply just sat and thought about it but did nothing.

Some may disagree, but you may need to separate yourself from your work in your mind so that you are able to sell it better. Your work is not you but simply an extension. Just because others might misunderstand, misinterpret, or simply dislike the body of work that does not mean they dislike you personally. I try not to take anything personally and if others reject the work it simply was into for them. However, if your goal was to agitate or upset and you caused a ruckus then congratulations your cohesive body of art work is working!


Ways Around Gatekeepers

Think of different ways around gatekeepers. Many might say they enjoy the work you do but have no room or you may not get into shows due to other reasons due to a jury rejection. I have heard some artists being rejected for the way their booth looked or how their set up or display was done. If needed work on what they suggest if you need to but also work to break though the gatekeepers. One way to work around gatekeepers is to build your own community of people who care and collect your work.

If a ten year old girl in Tennessee can gain one million subscribers on social media doing a milkcrate challenge then you as an artist should be able to muster up a few hundred or thousand people who care. Like the old music industry that refused to change and went bankrupt, or the book industry, you can also like the song writers, producers, singers, and writers; have opportunities to put your work into the world in many different ways on different platforms to reach those people who care.

There are some challenges you will need to work though but once overcome can give you leverage in promoting your work and speaking what you wish to say. While they are helpful, you no longer absolutely need galleries, art shows, shops, or the old ways to show your work to the world. You can do all of that with your own website or online shop. Size does not matter. A person can buy a car and have it brought to their house and a 52 inch tv shipped to their doorstep. So times have changed and your thinking as an artist may need to also to take advantage of these great opportunities that you now have available to show your work.


What Are You Waiting For?

Time is short and the only thing we never get back and you are the only one who can best tell your message and story to the world though your work!  At the time of writing this if I live to be 86 I only have 14,104 days left. If you do not tell your story someone else will and it might not be the story you want told in the way they tell it. I hope you found some of this helpful and can better  plan in creating your art in a more cohesive way that you can feel great about and also work your buyers enjoy! Below is a reading list of books that I found helpful. I recive no payments or kickbacks from posting this material. I write these articals because I enjoy helping folks just like you at no cost. If you enjoyed this post and got somthing out of it feel free to check out my gallery and shop or just say hello at creekroadpottery@gmail.com.

 

Here are some great books I have read!

Seth Godin:

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. 
This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.
Purple Cow.

Stephen Pressfield:

The War of Art
Do The Work

Simon Sinek:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Steve Blank:

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win

Free Class:

How to Build a Startup

Donald Miller:

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
Hero on a Mission: A Path to a Meaningful Life
Business Made Simple: 60 Days to Master Leadership, Sales, Marketing, Execution, Management, Personal Productivity and More

Joseph Campbell:

The Power of Myth

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Victor Frankl:

Man’s Search for Meaning.

 

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.

 

Founder’s Day

I went to a show in my hometown to show up in my hometown to push the pots and say hello to folks. I had to do all of that after working all night at the paper factory. The night at the paper factory was a long one because nothing was running right. So I super rush home and showered and loaded the pots. My wife was a big help as she was so kind and had all the pots that came out of the kiln packed. I almost was late to the show from hugging her and all. So we packed everything in the car and went to the show 40 min away and followed the instructions..

So they had teams of folks there to help unload with set up, so we pull to our spot and unload, and they all help, and we move the car and then start the set-up. Now I don’t have a normal show tent but one that is 5 sided and once up it for sure did not fit in the 10×10 spot but was well over it and was all up in my neighbor’s biz and Even though I was exhausted I quickly realize I was becoming that guy by holding things up. So I say “Hey It’s not supposed to rain so we don’t need the tent, thanks everyone. ”

But the director of the show said to me “Well you might want shade from the sun.” and I said “I got nice trees here so I’m good thanks and I don’t want to be that guy and hold you all up.” So we wasted time and argued a bunch, but she was very kind and overly helpful. But after some thought she told me that she had 2 slots of folks who did not show, and I could move all the stuff to that spot and put up the tent. By this time things were very stressful as we just needed to get set up to look good and all

So we wasted more time and that of the helpers when the kind lady had us all move all the pots and the stuff to the other double space and us and them got the tent up thanks goodness and one helper dropped a container of pots and I told him not to worry as everything on the bottoms are always seconds anyway and all the million dollar pots were home and the ones here were just mugs and all. None of that was true, but I just didn’t want to waste time with him going on about how bad he felt and all and for sure I don’t have any million dollar pots. So we got set up and the work put out on the flip shelves that set up fast and my wife helped me put out all the pots she packed up so nice in nest format from the boxes, and before we knew it we were saying hi to folks who started to stop by and poke around.

After we got set up my wife said she would find me food and coffee while I did some pricing adjustments. She asked me what I wanted in my coffee and I say just cream because you’re helping me added the sweetness and I might have a mouth full of cavities, call the dentist. So after my wife came back with food and coffee, she thought maybe I should shoot a pic and post to social media, so the peeps could come say hi if they were in town. So after six shots of me not sure where my arms should go we finally got a nice one, and then we sat out there all day in the shade in the hot sun and had a nice time chatting with folks and talking about how pots are made .

I was able to sell quite a few pots and made back my booth fee and believe it or not a few hundred over. And I was relived that I had the right stuff for the right folks, as I always worry about it. I appreciated each and every sale as no one owes me anything and I had some strong interactions and also a lady who wanted to learn to fire gas kilns as she only does electric. So I told her to stop up sometime.

Then I walked around a bit to wake up while my wife watched the booth when things slowed and bought a mug off another local potter who had some real nice work and had nice hand-builds. So over all it was a nice time as I sold some work and got some money and a sunburn. We then went home and I went to bed then got up and worked on the Hebrew pots for the opening on Friday, July 1st. Twenty of those pots are drying now, flipped in the sun.

 

Clemmer’s Tractor

I was not the only one out in the sun that day. A cool breeze was mixed in with the heat, so it was a great day for drying hay. They had plenty cut up on the Clemmer place, and they needed to get the hay raked and baled due to threats of thunderstorms. Old man Clemmer was using his new Oliver tractor.

Old man Clemmer was able to purchase his new Oliver tractor with the insurance money he got from when his pole barn full of bedding straw burned down. After the big investigation of the burning hay pile they went with Clemmer’s theory that sunlight from his pickup truck mirror reflected into the barn and set the bedding straw on fire. It also helped out if you were good friends with the fire chief and those who worked the fire company as then there was no need to look deeper than you needed to into things.

Some at Millie’s bar thought the fire up at Clemmer’s was a bit strange, and they all were talking about how much young Davy Clemmer loved fire works. Every year when the night went warm, it would sound like Chinese new years up on the hill. Davy Clemmer would save all his money and have his older friends buy fireworks. Before Facebook, fire working was a form of entertainment for a lot of folks. When M80’s were no longer big enough, there was always quarter sticks to relive folk of the burden of having all 5 fingers. Davy Clemmer was down to three fingers now but was still going strong as he still had a thumb.

Davy Clemmer lost his second finger in a heroic effort to save a friend’s life. Somehow, a quarter stick that was lit got dropped on the floor of the side by side the friends were driving up on Turkey Trail road. And while they both in a panic tried to find a stick among the empty beer cans, the fuse was much shorter by the time Davy Clemmer came up with it. Davy for the better got the stick to the window as the side by side he was driving rolled into the ditch. Davy lost a finger and part of his hearing that day when they crawled out from under the vehicle and celebrated being alive in pain. “So I think Davy Clemmer set that fire up there, and you can’t tell me any different.” said Bob as he took a sip of his beer. “I don’t care what the investigation found. If Davy Clemmer was around the place and there was a fire, you can almost bet that kid was part of it all somehow.”

But Clemmer’s Oliver was real nice and worked much better than the last tractor he had. It always seemed he was working on the old one more than he was using it, and when you had nice days on the farm, it was time to get things done rather than mess around trying to be a mechanic. The rain held off for Clemmer and he was able to bag everything he had down. It was almost like a miracle happened as when the dark clouds gathered a hole seemed to open up over his field. “How lucky am I!” thought Clemmer as the rain went up the other side the road.

Now there may not be an old man Clemmer or an Oliver tractor, but somewhere, someplace, someone was forced to appreciate life a little more. 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 sure was a hard time getting started but I was able to make it into the studio to start some outstanding projects. The weather is nice enough to have warm days to do yard work but still cold enough to have frost. The studio was a bit cold so I used hot water in the tossing pail. I was brainstorming on finding ways to keep my clothes clean some while throwing and thought I would try aprons made for dishwashers and they worked great. I have for years simply clayed up cloths then took them to the laundromat after soaking them in a pail of hot water. Way back I remember my mentors soaking their cloths in hot water and vinegar. I have since learned to not enjoy the smell all that much as potters use vinegar for almost anything; in their slip, cleaning, mop water, handling mugs, and anything else it seemed they can dump it into. If you asked the reason they always have one for sure but it may not make total sense but that’s just fine as long as it makes them feel good about what they might need vinegar for.

Warm Days Cold Nights

I was able to fill a bunch of grow bags with soil to start a garden later. My wife and I decided to use grow bags because the soil here at Creek road is very rocky once you break through the sod. It took about 10 bags of dirt, the was a bit expensive due to inflation but we got it done. All we need now is a fence to keep out the rabbits and deer. The rabbits have no fear of us and we can almost walk right up to them and I’m sure they all would have a great time munching down the lettuce when it sprouts. I hope to plant around Memorial Day.

I have a few summer shows planned that should be fun to attend and meet people of the area. Work-life balance has been a challenge as I had a schedule change and things are going well but I have been a bit tired on my days off. I hope to get back on the straight and narrow and keep looking ahead as if you look back to much things can get crooked some so no need to be perfect. Just make your first furrow as straight as you can with your eyes looking to some landmark on the far side of the field and it should for the most part come together. It’s Spring and the plowing should be done but the fields were a bit wet to get on. Many couldn’t wait any longer to plow or things would come up late; “knee high fourth of July” for corn. But Rusty Clapper was having a real bad time getting started this year plowing with the horses.

Rusty Clapper Breaks a Leg

When Rusty came to he lifted his head a little. The sun was bright and warm up in the twenty acre plot on Crow Hill. He could make out the looming dark shadows of his three large workhorses standing ahead, their heads shaking off the black flies and getting impatient.

Rusty could feel the cold damp earth as he lay on his back in the six inch deep furrow. He tried to move some to see if he was all right but he could not feel his left leg. He reached down with his left arm and a thousand prickling pins raced up the limb, telling him he must have been laying there long enough to cut off the circulation. “Hooo!” Rusty said to his team. They were older horses, well trained, which may have saved his life. Rusty propped himself up on his elbow to have a look at his situation.

Big Sam was smart enough to stop the team when they hit the rock plowing. A younger team might have spooked and ran, killing Rusty and breaking the plowshare. Rusty loved having big Sam in the furrow as he set the pace for the other two horses. He could see the evener had came right off the plow and the pull beam lay on the ground, The trip for the plow might have been rusted up some as it never sprung when it collided with the huge rock. He sure was a lucky guy a little. But he was in a great deal of pain in his left leg. He winced and lay back down as the horses shook their heads, annoyed by the flies swarming around them.

Rusty and Evelyn always had a rule that they would eat dinner together no matter what at 6 P.M. sharp, and if one was not there, each should go find the other. The boys had their own jobs off the farm now, so it was just the two of them and a basset hound they called Sherlock, who mostly laid under the table. Rusty left a note for Evelyn that we would be on the Crow Hill lot plowing with the horses. When rusty checked his watch out in the damp furrow under the big sky it was only 2 P.M. So he had some time. He knew it would be a long fours hours.

It sure was a nice day up on Crow Hill in the field, in furrow, under the sky. A few clouds moved slowly over head as Rusty lay there on his back. It had been some time since he lay on his back looking up at the sky. He thought maybe the last time he had the pleasure was way back when he was 10 or 12 years old when his cousins and he would go swimming in the pond out past the barn in the pasture. Out by the big gnarly oak tree where the cows would lay in the shade on those warm summer days. All the kids would lay out also on the soft grass by the pond after a swim before milking, watching the clouds float by.

The tree had a large bough that reached out over the water and if a kid claimed up there and if he was brave, a good cannon ball splash could be made from leaping off. Out in the pond where you could play all day knocking each other off the big tractor tire inner tube, out where you could scoop up tadpoles and minnows in your hands. A cloud drifted over top Rusty that look like a plow. “Real funny.” said Rusty out loud to the Lord. “Real funny.”

The horses were being quite good, standing still as they all spent time out there together, on Crow Hill, while they all waited for Evelyn to get home and come to find them. Rusty was doing better than expected with the pain as he lay in the furrow. There were a lot of things he might have done differently in his life now that he had time to think about it out there on the ground as he watched a few sparrows dive and dart above his head.

Rusty Clapper thought maybe he should call his brother as he reflected some. Maybe he was a bit to hard and judgmental way back when Randy decided to sell his half of the cows and leave the farm to take on a factory job. Rusty seen it as a bit selfish, and a betrayal of what their father worked so hard for all those years. But maybe the guy just wanted to be happy, and plus Mama would be disappointed with the falling out they had if she were still alive. Rusty must have dozed off some in the furrow behind the horses with the plow with thoughts of his mother’s comforting smile.

’Ruuuustttty! Rusty!”

Rusty thought he heard his name but was not sure until he heard the barking and yelp of old Sherlock , his hound, coming his way.

Rusty Clapper! Are you OKay?

Rusty propped himself up onto his elbow. ‘I’m over here!” he yelled back.

It was Evelyn, she came out to find him. Tears welled up some in his eyes as Sherlock waddled up wagging his tail and licking his face pushing him back to the ground. ‘Ohh come on boy not now. Ouch! Not that leg boy! Off me now!” Rusty reached in his pocket and gave Sherlock the treat he was looking for. Rusty always kept one in his pocket in case Sherlock needed to find him. He knew Sherlock worked for food like the rest of us. “Now lay down boy or you’ll spook the damn horses.”

”What on earth happened out here! It looks like you could have been killed!” said Evelyn as she made her way over the turned clumps of plowed earth. “ I’m doing okay but I think I might have broke my leg” said Rusty, as Evelyn stumbled towards him.

“Mercy! How long have you been out here like this!”

”Ohh just a few hours..you know..I just laid down and had a little nap is all.”

”Rusty I told you to sell those horses. Your going to get yourself killed!”

”Now Evelyn I need you to listen carefully because I need you to unhook Abe and take him back to the barn and hook him up to the rock sled. Then come back so I can get to the road. I’ll tell you exactly what to do.’ Rusty instructed.

“First unhook the evener from the tug line on the back of Abe here and then the line connecting his bit to Jacob. Next unhook the evener from the other side and then last unhook the neck yoke. Always unhook the neck yoke last in case they take off.

“Rusty Clapper your going to be the death of me! Back Abe..back..back.. Abe a little… Hooo!”

Once Evelyn got slack in the line she unhooked the eveners on both sides of the team and then went to the front and unhooked the neck yoke. It made a heavy clink as it dropped it to the ground. She unhooked big Abe and led him back beside the plow. Standing on the plow tire, she swung up on the tall horse.

”Okay I’ll be right back! You don’t move Rusty Clapper! Keep Sherlock here with you and the horses.”

”Be careful hooking to the sled. Remember, always hook the neck yoke first. Abe is good with the sled and knows what to do. He won’t give you to much trouble but go easy!” Said Rusty, shading his eyes to see Evelyn on top the tall work horse.

”Okay don’t worry I’ll be right back. Abe.. step up..easy Abe..good boy!”

The large workhorse knew his way back home. As a matter of fact, a little to well. Anytime Rusty had the horses standing, he knew if big Abe was in the team not to have him stand in the direction of the barn or he might feel the need to return home a bit early.

Evelyn returned no time flat and helped Rusty roll out of the furrow and onto the sled. On the somewhat painful and bumpy ride home, with his hound and the two other large horses, Sam and Jacob trailing behind, Rusty thought himself quite lucky. After having worked so hard and coming so far he thought maybe he even enjoyed his sufferings a bit. What a great day to be in a procession with horses stepping slowly down the road and being alive to enjoy it.

There may not have been a Rusy Clapper, Big Abe , or a corn field on Crow Hill, but somewhere someplace someone was forced to have a time of relection. 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.

I was supposed to get up at 6 am to get the kilns going but hit my snooze button twice and got up at 6:30 instead. I made a coffee and looked out the window at the second heavy frost of the year. Mrs. Smith’s black and white tomcat was sitting on the pottery porch watching a rabbit hop across the frozen grass and into the brush at the edge of the lawn. By 7:30 am, I had the glaze clean-up done on about sixty pot bottoms and started to load them out in the cold, stopping every once and a while to take sips of my steaming coffee. The candle cups with the blue glaze would need to go on the bottom shelves while the farmhouse green cups went on the middle and top shelves as this kiln runs hotter up top. I have one kiln that runs hot on the top and another gas kiln that runs hot on the bottom. Correct placement is important as each shelf puts out a different effect and color due to the temperature difference. My phone buzzed at 7:30 am. It was a message from Sandy. 

R u up yet?” 

I took off my glove and typed out, “Yes. Loading kilns what’s going on?”  

On my way. b there 8:30” 

K,” I type back. 

Sandy is a middle-aged lady with red hair who goes all in on almost everything she does and works sales for her day job. At 8:53 she pulls in as I am lowering the updraft kiln lid. “Sorry I’m 23 minutes late,” she says. “My horse got out, and I had to put him back in. When he gets out all the goats follow but thank goodness they all follow back also. 4H and goat shows have me running around like crazy. I did get your soaps made up for you.” 

Well, that’s good they follow like that. Now if that were a pig, they would never go back in the same hole,” I say. 

Yeah, the old guy got cut some on his leg from the fence, but I was able to fix him up by spraying blue coat on it. He should be fine,” Sandy says, brushing her hair out of her eyes. “He’s a real good boy but getting old.” 

I wonder if her horse is anything like Magic, I think to myself.

 

Photo by Zosia Korcz on Unsplash

It was the start of “The Best Summer Ever” when I was a kid. That was the summer when the stray dog showed up that could do tricks, where us kids swam in the cool Starrucca Creek, and Uncle Will brought home a pony we named Magic. Aunt Barb suggested the name because he had blue eyes. She thought it made the pony look magical. As we stroked the pony’s mane, we all had to agree. We took turns riding Magic all summer over at Aunt Barb and Uncle Will’s. When we stopped for lunch, Aunt Barb would make us all peanut butter sandwiches and give us each one hot bean made by Uncle Will himself. Along with the bean was a small cup of milk to tame the burn. We would all sit on the porch steps and eat before taking turns riding Magic. The pony worked hard that summer. We knew better not to fight too loud while taking turns. If there was any trouble, Aunt Barb would make both offending parties stand and hug each other in the middle of the yard to think about things while the other kids went your turn on the horse for you. 

Sandy handed me a box. “Here are ten shave soap pucks, we can do a trade. I also have this old kiln you can have if you help me get on Square. I have a sale at a farmer’s market next week” 

Well, that sure is a lot. I’ll pay you for the kiln. Getting on Square is no real trouble,” I say. 

I had the buddy gas heater going in the pottery shed. Sandy took a seat in a yard folding chair and I in another beside her, and we both got out our phones to go through it all. It didn’t take too long, and we got it all done before the next kiln check. The cones in both kilns dropped just in time to give me an hour of sleep before a 12-hour night shift at the paper factory. When I returned, snow clouds were in the sky. The wind was cold, and the air was crisp. I added four pieces of wood to the stove while the candle cups started to cool. To stay warm, I thought warm thoughts. Like thoughts on that Best Summer Ever and that pony named Magic.

Sandy made out ok at the sale. It’s ok to take time out to help others. Some names and events were changed, but there truly was a Best Summer Ever and a pony named Magic. This is my story about my town, and childhood, so I get to tell it how I like.

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

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
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.

 

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 Wright 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 two 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 scheduled 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 wear boards 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.

Written By,

Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
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.