Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How artists can use Instagram


Turquoise and Khaki mugs

So this happened: Christie’s had an art auction on Instagram, grossing $134.6 million. And an artist in New Orleans, Ashley Longshore, sells paintings directly from Instagram, for upwards of $30,000. Obviously there is some serious coin passing hands through an app that was designed just to share your own cell phone pictures.

I’ve grown a decent following by posting 3-4 times throughout the day. I love looking at my feed and hope Instagram doesn’t eff that up like Pinterest did (but that’s another story). My Instagram has become the main driver of traffic and sales to my website Lee Wolfe Pottery, in just 7 months. Here are my best tips for artists and artisans who want to gain and grow a following on IG for the purpose of selling their work. The basics can be learned anywhere, and by that I mean how to set up an account, use hashtags, comment on posts, etc. Let’s pretend you already know that, plus how to use your camera, editing apps, PayPal, online shipping, etc. The next level after the basics is where just being an artist, that is, having a lot of natural curiosity, an opinionated and focused point of view, and an aesthetic sense that you feel deep in your gut, will make you stand out.

1) Know who you are as a brand before you start. You might be very clear about what that is, but if you are not, try putting it into words. What is your artwork about? What larger trends, if any, are you aligned with?What are you opposed to? What need does your work fulfill? What problem does it solve? Visually, what represents you? Musically, what represents you? What gets expressed when you make things? You don’t need an autobiographical answer to each of those questions in order to open an Instagram account! But it helps if you could confidently answer a few.

2) Make sure that every post, and every element within your posts, represents you as a brand. This gets really obvious after you think about it awhile.  Take me for example. Lee Wolfe Pottery is based in the organic, natural world and is connected to simple living, artfully prepared food, warm and welcoming homes that nurture and revitalize creativity. So, which of these does not belong in my photos as a staging prop?

a) a flower from my garden

b) works by other artisans, such as block printed napkins, hand carved wooden spoons, handmade soap

c) garden vegetables, fresh baked desserts, organic eggs

d) plastic cutlery from Dollar General

I hope you got that one right. It’s d.

3) Look at your posts as a whole. There should be enough negative and neutral space within each photo to allow the grid of your posts to seem harmonious and uncluttered. For example, my posts are usually shot on a white table. I space my dark background shots so that they have at least 2 white background shots before and after. This isn’t the only visual formula that works by any means! But a formula is important.

Lee WolfePottery on Instagram

4) Be social more than promotional. A life lesson to apply: no one likes that person at a party who is always selling insurance or trying to list your house, even though you’d be likely to ask within your circle of friends when you need insurance or a listing agent. So use your IG as a window into your world more than as free ad space. Post a bit of daily life in your studio, new works shot informally, and other parts of your life that directly relate to your brand. Watch which posts get the most likes and comments and then post more like that. People will teach you about what to post if you pay attention!

5) Like and comment liberally. It’s free and it matters.

6) Space your posts out. I don’t like to post more than 1X every 4 hours, no more than 4X a day (usually less than 4). You don’t want your posts to be spam. If you have multiples of similar photos, pick only the best, the one that tells a story, the one with great lighting and composition.

Family Bowls in progress

7) This is really everything: always add value. If you can’t see the value, don’t post it! Give people something interesting, informative, revealing, inspirational, beautiful, and/or funny. Think about original and unique posts. Play with editing apps. Make still shots little collages. Bake things just for Instagram! Make your children  hold things on their heads or until their little hands cramp while you get the perfect angle… okay, maybe not that. But do stretch your creativity and make an account that must be followed because it is that good.

you can follow me here LeeWolfePottery, if you like.

Friday, October 10, 2014

flourless chocolate soufflé with whipped coconut cream topping

flourless chocolate souffle

This is my new favorite dessert! It is gluten and dairy free, easy to make, and so good that you might have to run a finger around the bowl when done to get those last little bits of (almost) healthy decadence! The only tedious task is separating 8 eggs but once that is done it’s very simple. If you need some ramekins, mine are for sale here. Any small stoneware bowls will work. You will need 8.

Chocolate Soufflé


8 eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 lb chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 can coconut milk (full fat) chilled in fridge at least 2 hours

1 t powdered sugar


Butter the ramekins.  Separate eggs into yolks and whites. Put yolks in small bowl and whites into larger bowl (or Kitchen Aid bowl). Add 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla to yolks and beat until color lightens.

Put chocolate chips and butter in microwave safe bowl. Heat in 40 second intervals. Remove and stir then return for another 40 sec. Repeat until chocolate is melted. Fold yolk mixture into chocolate.

Whip egg whites to soft peaks, then fold into chocolate yolk mix. You will get a coffee’'-with-cream colored batter. There can be some striations but no large patches of marbled color. Be gentle! Pour into ramekins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set ramekins on baking sheets and bake 25 min.

Meanwhile, open coconut milk and scoop only the white stuff into a Kitchen Aid. Whip on high until fluffy, adding powdered sugar. So easy! And this tastes better than whipped dairy cream.

Remove soufflés and try not to taste in advance if you have company. You might devour them by yourself! Serve warm or cool with a dollop of cream.

flourless chocolate cake topped with with whipped coconut milk.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

FAQ: Experimental Pieces, Prototypes,and Seconds

owl votive by Lee Wolfe

A. EXPERIMENTAL PIECES: I was never a great production potter because my mind, hands, and heart drift into unknown territory when left to their own devices. Strict replication over endless hours doesn’t appeal to me. A case in point: while making a Raven and the Halloween Moon luminary, this owl slipped in almost on its own. Other experiments are more intentional, like trying out new materials or techniques, mixing glaze tests, or gathering objects to see what kind of textures they make as stamps. I devote at least 5 hours a week to this kind of playful experimentation.

B. PROTOTYPES: Out of the chaotic creativity of experiments come ideas that I want to explore in more depth. Prototypes are made in small series with minor differences over a period of several weeks or months. I first try out different glazes and shapes that may not be repeated, and then work on perfecting the balance and function. Now in prototype are Arabesque, the Fox Casserole, and Nebula. I sell these pieces both in my Saturday Sale and Sale section on Etsy, raising the price incrementally. Once I am sure what the market price should be, I decide whether it is worth my time to continue that prototype as a new series. If so, it is listed for sale exclusively on my website at LeeWolfePottery.com. You can check New in 2014 for the latest pieces. My newest pieces are always at the best prices for first quality work. The more popular something becomes, the more the price rises.

If you are looking for a piece that used to sell on Etsy, it may be available on my website- be sure to check. Here are the website’s categories:




goblets and mugs

keepsake box



planters and vases

platters and trays

soap dish


C. SECONDS: Seconds are flawed or intended as a set but mismatched in some way. The issue can be as minor as a small glaze bubble, slight warp, or teeny crack or major issues such as large cracks, glazes that have run off the pot so that bottoms require repair, or large bare spots. Seconds have a charm of their own and I often like the quirky pieces even more for their peculiarities. Still, I sell them for significantly less than firsts. If you want to catch these bargains, like me on Facebook where sales are pre-announced, check my Saturday Sale and SALE section on Etsy.

Thanks for your interest!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

New hosta leaf designs

I live somewhere between the pure artist and the production-driven artisan. Unlike an artist, my work doesn’t originate as a concept or idea. I begin, as most artisans, with the intention to make something on my production list, such as “20 hosta plates,” a result of an order I’ve been sitting on for several months until the hosta leaves in my garden were large enough to press into clay and then shape into a plate. Mine are pretty standard, with attention to curling the edges up with graceful curves. In the middle of this process, all these new designs emerged. Really, they just happened so intuitively that I had the thoughts of a spectator in my head… “oh, I like that curl… well, that works really well… I wonder where this one is going..” etc.

hosta plates and bowls Lee Wolfe Pottery hosta leaf bowl by Lee Wolfe Potteryhosta leaf

You’ll be able to see the results in a few weeks at LeeWolfePottery.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

knowing that you are a flower, opening

I have watched the flower buds unfold this year. In spring, the tulips and daffodils slowly unfolded, showing a bit more color each day, incrementally, taking weeks to fully bloom. Now that it is summer, in the warm sun and soft rain, poppies, peonies and lilies that were tight balls the night before are wide open the next morning. And I think we are all flowers, too, bringing forth our unique thoughts, our softest emotions, our true art, more readily when the world around us is warm and welcoming.

Here are some of what’s been blooming in my garden and studio:

white iris  sidebar 1

sidebar 2 _DSC8395

white platter

All pottery is available at Lee Wolfe Pottery.com

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter table

Modern Lace dinnerware Easter table 

I have a beautiful Modern Lace dinnerware set in Gray and Chartreuse ready to ship, so I shot these pics on the dining room table with my garden flower arrangements for this Easter. I love the neutral table linens with bright pops of spring blooms.

These Easter eggs are so easy! I wanted to use the natural brown of the local organic eggs. After hard boiling, each one was wrapped with different twines and cords I had on hand and then embellished with a scrapbooking paper flower with a glue dot on the back. Sometimes the simplest projects are the most successful.


_DSC8201 _DSC8197

Happy Easter! Happy Pesach! Welcome spring with your cool breathe and promises of renewal.

All pottery in pics can be found on LeeWolfePottery.com

Saturday, March 22, 2014

new series: Arabesque

Here’s the good thing about listing stuff on Etsy: lots of people see it. Here’s the bad thing: lots of potters floundering in their own development copy it. Or try to. My flower bowls, with altered rims in a ‘flower’ shape, have more look-alikes than Cher at a drag queen show, so it’s time for something new. The Arabesque series has been in development for a year, and I finally have prototypes to test market. They will be sold on OneClayBead (Etsy store) until I decide on a full line, which will then be for sale exclusively on Lee Wolfe Pottery. Meanwhile, the prototypes are value priced, so if you like them, take advantage of that. I like the arrow points, the negative spaces between pieces, and the strong visual geometry.

Neon Sea nesting bowls