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#89740 Qotw: What Makes Something Qualify As Hand Made?

Posted by Pugaboo on Yesterday, 10:11 PM

What is Hand Made?

Since I helped open this can of worms (boy are you going to be wishing we were still on Pandoras box) this is where I come from...
Oh and this is going to get LONG, what is actually considered "handmade" and or "art" is a button pusher for me.

To me Handmade is created by the hands of the artist selling it. Not outsourced. If someone buys something and adds to it then it should be labeled "embellished". Use of technology and machinery to create a handmade item is okay as well as long as it takes creative input and the product put out is not 100% identical time after time. (This is tricky when it comes to photography and print making) and I'm not talking about using jewelery findings or adding purchased wooden spoons and like items to your pieces these are fine since they only enhance the product and are not THE product.

As a photographer other artists hated me because I wasn't doing "real" art. Snap a picture how hard is that it's not creative at all. I shot b&w infra-red and high speed 3200 films, I loved doing double exposures and such, I used a manual Nikon camera, had my own darkroom, developed my own film, wet printed my own photos, matted and framed my own work, wrote a poem to go with each piece, etc. But I still did nothing but click a button to most people, I didnt "hand make" anything.

Then as a commercial graphic artist I was frowned on upon by other "true artists" how dare I sully the world with art for monetary gain. A true artist doesn't create what sells they follow their muse. If said muse says stick garbage in a shopping cart well it still qualifies as handmade ART while for some of my art, which I sketched, then scanned, manipulated in the computer and printed using a special pigment printer, then manipulated some more after it was printed by painting, cutting, stacking, etc was crass garbage. Even now when someone asks why do you make this and not that, I say I make this because it sells, if I make that I end up dusting it for the next 10 years they look insulted that I consider its saleablilty before making it. sigh Still not hand making anything.

I understand the question of the artist rakuku in your gallery and because of this issue I tend not to show my printed art very many places. I sell it on my website and such instead and I state how I do it. But I don't number, more on this issue next. Doing festivals I would come across people that only offered "numbered prints" impressive right? Well I bought the last of an edition by an artist and a year later saw them again offering the same image. When asked about it was told, well the size was changed by half an inch so I can now offer it as a new series. Seriously? So to me a numbered print is a joke UNLESS they state on the piece that it is number ___ in the series inclusive of all sizes printed. "Print" Pet peeve addressed SORRY

Present Day:
I now use pottery to combine my photography, sketching and painting. Somethings I hand paint free hand style right in the piece, very labor intensive very expensive price tag. Other items I use handmade transfers of various types created from my own designs, some copyright free patterns, vintage wallpaper, etc, not so expensive though still labor intensive. My final level are items with mostly my own designs and artwork along with some copyright free border type designs put on the piece using laser transfers that I make myself, much cheaper and not so labor intensive. Want to guess which level I sell the most of? The one most people are fascinated by? The laser transfers! I personally would rather hand paint everything but it can take a year to sell something with this high of a price tag and I kind of like eating and paying my bills.

One of the things I do to keep the costs and labor expense down is to use machinery and technology. I have a Slabroller, a wheel, an extruder, an electric kiln, digital scale, a computer (which by the way I designed and built from the circuit boards out but I'm not a geek honestly), a scanner, 4 different printers, digital cameras, and access to the Internet. Can I do what I do without all of that? Sure but it's going to take way longer and be priced way higher and I'll propably have to get a day job to pay the bills while I wait and hope some high end buyer comes along to buy a piece. Every piece I sell is created by me with my own 2 hands, no helpers, no outsourcing, so is what I do considered handmade? Probably not to some.


#89572 Qotw: Are We Copycats?

Posted by Pugaboo on 25 July 2015 - 10:05 PM

A most excellent question!

My feeling is this:

All of us absorb things from the world around us, sights, sounds, smells, textures, etc. As artists our job is to percolate those things and release them back into the world in a way that shows our own creative interpretation of it all.

I think directly copying someone's work in order to sell it yourself is wrong. I go out of my way to bring my own vision to the pieces that I make. If I see one of the local potters making certain shapes or forms at our local art center gallery I tend to go the opposite way so as to not to copy their work in any way. They need to make a living and so do I if we all make the same stuff we only hurt ourselves.

I am currently teaching a series of classes on design for pottery. I show them how to make a simple form, plate, box, vase, etc. But the focus is on putting designs and artwork on their pieces. I created the class series because I get told all the time by other potters oh I can't put an image or design on my pieces I'm not an ARTIST. So I designed a series of classes to show potters that yes they too are capable of putting images and designs on their pots. I stress using their own sketches (not likely), photos and copyright free images.

I got asked during the first class aren't you worried that teaching us how to do this is going to affect your sales? I told them no becasue each of us has a different things that we are attracted to. I like boxes, pugs and pastel colors, you might like bowls, frogs and bright colors how is what you do going to affect what I do? That got them to thinking about what forms and patterns they like.

At the end of the class I told them, I hope you all enjoyed the class and will take the techniques I have shown you and push them even further and make them your own. I really hope they do, I am in fact excited to see what they come up with on their own as they explore their new knowledge.


#89562 Freestanding Retail/studio Location

Posted by Pugaboo on 25 July 2015 - 05:00 PM




Inspiring, too bad I live in a place where they have codes for the color of your shingles and everything else they can think of. Your story is amazing, congratulations on all your hard work paying off and I hope it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

PS. I too would like to see the interior of the shop space.

#89358 Qotw: Would You Open Pandora's Box?

Posted by Pugaboo on 22 July 2015 - 10:17 PM

I find myself in a quandary ...
To open or not to open
What if I want to do both?

I like to plan, do, succeed

But my father instilled a strong sense of curiosity concerning the world around me. So I would measure the box, examine it, research it, learn all I could about it.... Then open it and see what happens.

I should also state I named one of my Pugs, Pandora.


#89353 Christening A New Kiln - The Kiln Gods

Posted by Pugaboo on 22 July 2015 - 09:54 PM

I have said for years that my husband is of the opinion we have magical Pixies that come through and clean the house up. Having them working the kiln sounds like an even better idea!

Aren't we supposed to put out dishes of cream or something to keep the house pixies happy???


#89269 Are There Any Laws Of Pottery?

Posted by Pugaboo on 21 July 2015 - 11:17 PM

*HUGS* Babs

It never fails when you absolutely need it something goes wrong. I've gotten in the habit of making 2 of most stuff just to keep the kiln gremlins confused.... Do we wreck this piece or that one? Grumble grumble grumble. Take that kiln gremlins!

My Mom appreciates the duplicates and doesn't seem to mind I mark the bottoms of hers "artist copy". The ones the gremlins do get to generally end up in recycle or if only slightly whacked then somewhere around my house.

I hope the next firing goes better. Heck glue all those shards together and call it modern art!


#88821 Hardening On Underglaze

Posted by Pugaboo on 13 July 2015 - 09:39 AM

I think it's interesting the way we all have different methods of using underglaze. I start painting it on at the soft leather hard stage all the way up to bone dry depending on the look I am going for. Then I bisque at 04 and will sometimes continue to add design to a piece with underglaze at this stage. Sometimes I fire at bisque again sometimes I just glaze and fire.

On soft leatherhard up to leatherhard I can get really nice watercolor type washes, bone dry gives me very sharp lines and clean up is easy if I make a mistake. I can also carve into the designs doing it this way. After bisquing I will add details I want separated clearly from the colors around it like highlights and contrast. I almost always rebisque if I do a lot of black or dark blue as I have found those colors are really touchy about have a glaze put over them without setting the underglaze. They will have color shifts or even run into the clear on top of it.


#87763 Qotw: • What Is The Best Advice Anyone Has Ever Given You?

Posted by Pugaboo on 25 June 2015 - 09:28 PM

I too received the advice, Never Give Up.

You can never lose if you never give up.


#87336 What Happened To These >-<

Posted by Pugaboo on 17 June 2015 - 09:08 PM

What does the glaze look like along the crack? Knowing this can help us know whether it cracked in the heating or in the cooling stage.


#87223 Feel Like I Am Hitting A Brick Wall - Perhaps You Have Experienced This?

Posted by Pugaboo on 15 June 2015 - 10:01 PM


I might not be the best person to chime in on this but that's never stopped me before so here goes... As everyone that's ever read one of my posts here already knows, I am working towards supporting myself 100% with my art and that currently I have a lot of things and people counting on me which limits my choices on how to go about doing this.

That said I have seen your work and you are very talented. Having this talent I think is also why you are questioning where your work is heading and how to get where you SEE your work getting to. You have a vision in your head and you want to create it, it's what drives everyone of us as artists and creative people. Learning patience will help you get there. I have had to learn patience... Okay in all honesty I am still learning patience.... The patience to practice my craft, the patience to know I can't always do what I want when I want, the patience to wait for the income to grow, the patience to study and fine tune the vision in my head so I am ready for the future when it arrives.

An example: At the moment I am working on an order of 12 mugs, 12 spoonrests and 18 ornaments, small potato order for some but a nice one for me. The only problem is... I have never had to make 12 matching mugs before, 4 yes no problem but 12 mugs all the same thrown on the wheel. My wheel skills are my weakest area and getting all the shapes, curves and heights to be exactly the same is an issue. I have 3 dozen mugs done at this point with about a dozen more I tossed. From this 3 dozen I hope to get 1 dozen that will look good together. Maybe. There is that brick wall we all know so well.

I am tired of making mugs and would really rather be hand painting on a box that I have been slowly working in for almost 3 months now but I am going to get 12 matching mugs no matter what. I don't know why they couldn't have ordered a dozen identical boxes now THAT I can do in my sleep every day of the week. I tell myself this is a good learning experience since I have never before sat and thrown mug after mug after mug. I am getting better and faster at mugs but I still prefer my boxes and what I would really like to be doing is making one of a kind Pug sculptures but between orders, shops, galleries, festivals and my online venues I find myself making spoon rests, mugs, small boxes and jewelry pieces since those are what sells and if I don't sell I can't afford to create.

So it's back to the wheel to make some more mugs but in my head I will be planning my next hand painted one of a kind box... tessellation patterns have been poking at my brain for months now and I am working out how to use triangle boxes to create a tessellated pattern with an image spread across numerous small boxes, preferably one that if the boxes are rotated it makes another recognizable image. This has kept me awake for more than one night and eventually I will get it worked out in my head, then I will sketch it, then try and create it in clay. But for now it's back to making more mugs.

Keep up the great work and speaking as a mother of a now 33 year old daughter if you survive the teenage years anything else you decide to do from then on will seem so much easier to achieve. Oh and around 25 you will get the daughter back that the wicked witch replaced with a teenager and it will all seem worth it.


#86769 Should I Start Pottery Or Not? Advice Please.....

Posted by Pugaboo on 08 June 2015 - 05:31 PM

I agree with the suggestions. I would also find out, after you take your class and decide you do want to pursue, a community or group that offers memberships to a group studio. Many local art centers, art shops, community centers offer this type of thing. They provide the equipment and you pay a monthy or yearly fee to join. Some require you to buy their clay, and such but it would be a way of exploring your passion without having to come up with a large sum of money. It would also give you a place to go for some ME time away from other distractions.

At worst you could just buy yourself some clay and hand build and find a local pottery that rents shelves in their kiln, it wouldn't be wheel work but you could still have your hands in clay while you decide how much further you want to go.


#86648 "would You Be Willing To Accept Less For It?"

Posted by Pugaboo on 07 June 2015 - 04:05 AM

I will offer a discount in these situations:

1) the piece has been hanging around for over a year. I figure the luck of the draw is the more it is shuffled around the more likely it will be to eventually get damaged. So will do a small discount if asked.

2) they buy 4 or more of the same item. If they buy 4 or more DIFFERENT items and are really nice and appreciative of me and my work and don't ask for a discount of me I will find an additional piece that compliments the ones they are buying and add it to their bag.

3) they are a charity or nonprofit and buying a dozen or more pieces to sell at their next fund raiser, or give to their volunteers during the holidays. This is usually a Pug Rescue group and they will usually put in a wholesale order of at least 3 dozen pieces which I give to them at my standard rate then I include a selection of small items of my choice like ornaments or something as a donation which discounts their overall price per item. I will also sometimes offer to print their groups logo on certain pieces free of charge rather than charging for this service. Doing all these different things depending on the situation has gotten me several longtime customers.

Oh and I should note I have enough padding built in to my prices that I am not losing money when I do any of these things. Giving a discount is a personal choice and I don't advertise that I do so so and often tell people No when asked. Most of the time it's becasue of their attitude of, if you want me to buy this you better give me a discount. Well I DONT WANT TO SELL TO YOU WITH THAT ATTITUDE so NO.

I HATE it when a local paper or news outlet does a story just before a festival and basically tells everyone to always ask artists for a discount that basically the artists will always do so if asked. It makes for some very uncomfortable encounters at the festival. What do you mean you don't do discounts! The artist over there is doing such and such. I have had people get pretty irritated when I say no to a discount, which I do most of the time especially on one of a kind items. It's funny though to see them quietly come back in to the booth at the end of the show and fork over full price for it. I just pretend I have never seen them before in my life and thank them kindly for their business.


#86615 Shipping

Posted by Pugaboo on 06 June 2015 - 09:07 AM

Oldlady- ha ha ha. Very funny

But True so true.

We had an avalanche this week and had to send in the rescue pugs. Realized they are very bad at rescues and just want to play in the pile and make it even harder to clean up and restack the bags. I had the fun of cleaning up peanuts throughout the studio as they chased each other merrily around, it's a good thing they are so cute even with peanuts clinging to their fur. <grin>


#86570 Making Very Fine Lines!

Posted by Pugaboo on 05 June 2015 - 08:39 AM

Michael- Sorry for the delay in answering
I haven't had any drastic changes in the RIO when covered by the zinc free clear.

I a,so second the painting a layer of wax into leatherhard clay then inscribing the lines with a sharp tool like a needle tool. Then you take your underglaze or other liquid medium and brush over the finished area. The lines will grab the color and the waxed parts will bead up. Simply dab any beads of color you don't want. Bisque fire as usual. You can then add additional layers of color and such after bisqued.
Technique gives very nice fine lines.


#82549 Shimpo Slabroller Chain Slipping And Binding

Posted by Pugaboo on 26 May 2015 - 10:11 PM

Just to kind of close this topic off in case anyone searches in the future with the same issue.

I went up today with a can of motorcycle chain grease took the Slabroller apart once more, cleaned the chains then sprayed it, the sprocket and the spindle with the grease let it sit for a few then spent some some rotating everything to get the grease worked in really well. It's working pretty good, the chain is still a tad touchy but am hoping as the grease does its job it will not be too much of an issue. The knob that wouldn't go on was solved by examining the spindle and finding 2 grooves with small ridges in the exact spot it was catching. We could only assume that a wrench or something was used to get it off and it marred the surface. Judicious use of a file smoothed this out and the handle slid on easily. We tried it out at varying heights and are hoping it will continue to do the job it was made for.

So anyone reading this because their Slabroller is skipping, binding and acting cruddy.... Go grease that poor thing! I in fact am going to check my own out tomorrow to make sure it doesn't need some preventative greasing to keep it happy.

That's all folks!