March Meet the Maker (days 21-31)

All of March was pretty busy, but it came to a head last week (hence no Wednesday and Friday blogging). But here's the last of the Instagram challenge that I was doing last month, and can I just say that I really, REALLY loved doing it! I enjoyed meeting so many like-minded Makers and getting a peek at what makes people work and how they do it. Now here's the rest of mine (I did skip one -- Day 27, Routine. Because my routine was so out of whack last week. How hilarious is that?!

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Day 21: Work Clothes

For the most part, blue jeans and a nerdy t-shirt (this one is Death, from the Sandman comics, saying one of my favorite quotes ever - "You get what anyone gets. You get a lifetime.". I snagged that about a million years ago when I used to work in a comic shop. ANYWAY. For shoes, I wear Altra Zero-drops, and as much as I miss my Converse high-tops, these are soooo much better on my feet. Lastly, if I'm throwing, I also don a clay-encrusted apron.

Sometimes, on days I go to the post office, I even remember to change into cleaner, less paint-and-clay splattered clothes! Oooo, fancy!

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Day 22: Best Seller

Who is surprised that it's my little yarn cups?

I didn't really have much interest in them for the first year or so that I made them... then someone contacted me from a knitting magazine and was interested in adding them to a "gifts for yarn lovers" spread they were doing. That was... five years ago, now, I think, and I still can't keep them in stock!

I slipcast these using a Duncan mold that was only made for about 6 months in 1983. I've been able to find five of the molds on eBay in the last six years, and the first two I found I've poured so much that the detail in them is all but destroyed (ironically, the process of using a plaster mold for slipcasting slowly destroys the mold... It's good for approximately 200 pours). Right now I have three in play, but one is starting to look iffy and most likely I'll be down to two by the end of the year. You better believe I have a daily search going on eBay for more!

There's also a matching sugar bowl but for some reason nobody ever seems to want those. I've found three of those molds and will probably never pour them enough to destroy the detail. Poor widdle sugar bowl!

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Ahhhh, the day I've been waiting for! Day 23: Studio Playlist.

I loves me some music. I was raised by people who did, brought up around people who sang and played instruments, and was always encouraged not just to listen to "the classics" (which, raised by hippies, included a lot of 60s counterculture and protest music) but to go out and find my own interests as well. (Side story: one day, while driving my dad around, I had They Might Be Giants on the tape deck in my car. He asked if I could turn it up so he could hear it better, because what he was hearing reminded him of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Oh, Daddy, I do miss you!). ANYWAY. I listen to music a *lot*, prefer to buy my music rather than stream it, and have about 500+ songs on my phone (and double that on my computer). Mostly I listen on random, but I do have a few playlists based on my mood. I also listen to podcasts, storing them up and listening to all of them over about two days, once a week or so.

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Day 24: Milestone

The day I was able to move into this studio, and start making it my own.

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Day 25: Packaging.

So, USPS did some serious damage to a pie plate the other week, but the customer commented on how crazy she thought it was that it even *was* damaged because of how well I'd packaged it. Ceramics go in tissue paper, then surrounded by bubble wrap, which is then safely placed in a much bigger box than necessary in order to surround all of that in a cocoon of packing peanuts. If it's a hollow piece, like a mug or a bowl, I will also fill the empty areas with packing peanuts, for extra padded safety. I try to include a little sumptin' sumptin' extra, too; if you order ceramics, chances are good you'll get a sample bar of soap. If you're ordering soap, I've recently made some lip balm to include as an extra. If you're ordering yarn, there's a good chance you'll get a stitch marker (unless you're one of my regulars and you specifically ask for a lip balm or a soap). Boxes are sealed well with packing tape, and have my logo on the side. I like people to think they're getting a present, a gift even if it's just for themselves.

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Day 26: Color and Texture.

Color? *And* texture? Yes, please! While I admire the stark beauty of a simple color palette, I'm not one of those who can commit to just one or two colors. I want ALL THE COLORS. And most of the textures, as well.

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Day 28, Organized.

How funny is it that I skipped yesterday, Routine, because I just couldn't get myself together? HAHAHAHAH! I was going to write out what I did and paste the text into an image, but by the time I did that the typeface was far too small to read. Maybe one day I'll do an entire blog post just on routine.

ANYWAY. Let's talk organization! I am both scattered to the winds, and the most organized person I know. Welcome to the dichotomy of me! I have to be organized in order to run this business single-handedly, but I am an artist and have an artists mind when it comes to organizing.

Here we have four things; my office setup, how I store finished yarn, how I store glazes and molds, and how I store dyes for yarn. There's so much more I could show you - how I store in-progress work for ceramics and yarn, how I store soap supplies, how I store yarn supplies other than dyes (like undyed yarn), how I store clay, how I store things in my office like packing materials or soap or.... yeah, I could go on.

Here's my desk. The desk holds obvious desk things like computer, printer, paper, paper cutter, and day planner (which I could do - and have done - entire posts on my planner system), but the desk also holds most packing supplies (boxes, tissue paper, business cards, etc). And it has shelves underneath that while built to be bookshelves, originally, now hold things like more packing supplies, backstock of tape and receipt books, old paperwork and receipts in case of audit, etc, etc.

The yarn is organized by base yarn (name of base yarn written on outside of tub) so that it's easy to find when someone makes a purchase.

The dyes are organized alphabetically by name of dye.

The glazes are sorted into brand, and type within brand. The molds are loosely sorted by type, like, "baby heads" and "planters" and "owls" and "mugs"... things like that.

This may look like a chaotic mess to an outsider, but generally I can put my hands on anything I need in two minutes or less.

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Day 29: In Action.

I tend to stay on the other side of the camera most of the time, but... here's me, handbuilding some slab-rolled mugs.

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Day 30: Books or Blogs?

As nosy as I am and as much as I like blogs for snooping in people's lives, if I had to choose just one or the other, well... daughter of a writer as I am, it's books, hands down. And this isn't a bookstore in my photo, it's my hallway, seen earlier this month on "Shelfie" day from the other direction. How I do love books!

ThankYou

Day 31: Customers

Oh, customers. I love all y'all so much! I have customers who have become friends ("friendstomers"!). I have customers who have become like family, and we have celebrated holidays together, cheered over each other's life achievements, and held each other while we cried over life's losses. My customers are all unique, and yet, so similar. Most of my customers are creative in some way - be it knitting, crochet, painting, gardening, baking, sewing, quilting, or spinning. They appreciate the handmade, and understand the time and heart that goes into making things. Most of them are geeks and nerds - mostly science fiction or fantasy readers, but also gamers, comic book readers, cosplayers, avid SF tv watchers and movie-goers, or nerdy about other specific things like opera or classical music or pet rescue organizations. They often have a cause that they trumpet; primarily about rights and just treatment of peoples and animals. Most of them have known pain - aging and ill parents, kids with certain needs, their own ghosts and demons, sudden and unexpected loss of loved ones, or watching close up, those they love deal with loss. Most of them have wickedly sharp senses of humor (it's always the quiet ones, right?) and they slay me with the notes they leave in their orders or the comments they leave on my posts. Most of them are unbelievably generous with their time and their hearts.

I couldn't do what I do, or be where I am, without them. I am humbled by them, lifted up by them, and strive to do right by them. I love them all.


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