“You’ve just gotta cry yourself a river; build yourself a bridge; and get over it.” – Pixel

“I may go crazy, before that mansion on the hill.” – Van Morrison

Sale’s done. It was a good one, and that’s not just the pat, publicly-appropriate answer. It was actually good. (I think.)

And the glow of success and relief lasted almost a whole day before the relentless penumbra of despair settled back into place. So that’s something. (Oh wait — maybe I should be posting this on my other blog? It gets so confusing, having more than one.)

//i am not a bot// i am not a bot// i am not a bot//



I’m trying to pay less attention to tallies and totals and stats, and year-over-year comparisons… gradually coming to the conclusion that they do more harm than good. The causal factors are so fragile and varied and complexly inter-related; the sample sizes always so small; and whether the trend line is up or down, 16 years of data says that won’t predict the next one, or next year, or the viability of this sin of a dream for the future.

So — screw all the stats and all that data garbage. Attention is better focused elsewhere.

That said, since I like numbers, and I know you like numbers, I’ll estimate that I sold around 150 pots, maybe 170; roughly $4500 worth; and roughly 2/3 of what I had. Which is good. Not too shabby for two days from my living room in the middle of nowhere.

(I also sold a fair amount of the stuff from my three guest potters; Witt and Ratman and BOSS. Not as much as I’d like, maybe $750 worth, total, but decent. I don’t count those into my sales total, even though they are pots that left the showroom, because my gallery commission is a pristine 0%.)

And look: I’m not crying about the money. The money is good, even if I’m still only making about $8 an hour before taxes and expenses. (In other words, the money is good for starving artist pottery money, but lousy by any other measure.) This money will probably be enough to help us hold serve through to the next sale cycle; groceries and propane and trips to Chipotle and all the rest. I’ve got enough clay and firewood left to get me through the winter, and I stocked up on some glaze materials and other consumables — thermocouples, gloves, salt — last month. (Who knew Tin Oxide was $30/lb.? I know it now!)

But — and isn’t there always a but? — but, that’s also more than the number of pots I added in the last seven months of working and from those five consecutive firings. And that’s unsettling, because it means (at least, I think it means) I’m still slowly slipping farther behind.

How in the hell did I only finish 150 pots in half a year? We’ve been over this territory many times by now, if you’ve been following along, but still — it’s kind of mind boggling that I can knuckle down and go harder and put in all those extra evening hours and early morning hours and still end up with so few. I guess I found new ways to lavish time on each pot; more deco, more intricate and layered patterns. (And I still can’t bring myself to charge upwards of $40 for a mug, no matter how elaborate or fine. The Big Hitters online seem to go all the way to $65 these days, which seems a little crazy to this country mouse.)

I guess I committed a lot of time to R&D — learning new tricks on forms like pitchers and oval jars; forms which also take a lot of time to complete, and which don’t sell fast (most of them are still on the shelf). And also to glaze testing, and tweaking my firing schedule, small process improvements around the studio, etc. I still believe it’s foolish to skimp on R&D; that when it goes, that’s the first sign of the end coming near — the warning strip on the road. Also because that’s as close as I ever get to the pure play zone, which in many ways is the only real goal. And because every good new twist or slightly creative idea I’ve ever had came from there, inefficiently and paradoxically and without much regard for rational accounting.

I guess I had a run of bad technical luck this last making session, too, and it came in overlapping waves: s-cracks, handles popping off, large bowls warping, overfired glaze blistering, random kiln mishaps. Almost every group of pots got hit by one of those, which takes an appreciable dent out of the final total on the shelf come sale morning. Like R&D, loss and slippage go with the territory; and I learned (I think) something about how to prevent each of them. But the cannon fodder adds up. Disappointing.

I guess I’m still slowed by other distractions and commitments — dayjob, minor illnesses, parenting, house-as-mortal-enemy, fragile spine. None of that is likely to change soon. So just gotta factor it in and account for it. Build that bridge and get the hell over it.

I’m tired; so tired. Probably close to whatever would technically qualify as exhaustion, which means I shouldn’t put too much stock in my flailing emotions or my fragile mental state. Like the sales trend lines, doens’t mean much in the longer term. Just means I need to rest. Or, more likely, to allow myself and/or make myself rest, before jumping back into the fray.

The dayjob won’t wait, the pots that need to ship out won’t wait, and certainly the breakfasts to be made and backpacks to be packed won’t wait. Neither will the freeze-preventing fires in the stove, or the various and sundry other things that embargo daily life from feeling like the much-needed, yet not actually earned, vacation.

But maybe somewhere in there I’ll find, or allow, some slack. I’d probably better. When I start doing that random, spontaneous little semi-hysterical giggle — the ‘wow we are so totally fucked’ chuckle — that means I’m in danger of not making it to the mansion on the hill intact.

Gotta make it to the mansion.

“A list of things I could lay the blame on, might give me a way out.”