Saturday, July 16, 2011

the TuckooandMooCow story


I met up with Sarah-Lambert Cook at the Big Crafty in downtown Asheville. She’s using her drawing talents to capture a niche audience with quirky miniature jewelry based on literary and film characters. If you enjoy The Hobbit, Monty Python or Shakespeare, her zany meets cute world will wow you.

Here’s how she went from unemployed to full time artisan, in her own words:

I began listing items in May 2010, selling art and the hand painted jewelry. In the first few weeks, sales were few but steady. Since it was mostly the jewelry, I decided I ought to focus all of my energy on that. But life threw a curve-ball in August when the store I was working at in Kansas closed. My husband and I decided it would be the perfect time to pick up and move east. My parents were living in Atlanta and offered us the front room of their house until we could get settled. For seven months we lived in one room as storage space, bedroom and studio simultaneously.

Emboldened by reaching 80 sales by the end of October I stopped looking for work and focused my energy on Tuckooandmoocow. Researching, networking, renewing, and creating new designs paid off! I had almost 200 new sales the next month! Business stayed steady through Christmas, and when things didn't slow down much for the rest of winter, I knew I had it.

Now, we live in beautiful Asheville, NC and are able to depend on sales from TuckooandMooCow to support us. There have been things that didn't work: shipping UPS express international is a cluster-cuss for everyone involved, staying up all night for more than 3 nights in a row will cause a massive migraine and creative burnout, and with made-to-order items there must always be time budgeted for unforeseen circumstances. Some things have been godsends: Etsy is a community of artisans, not just solely a venue, so getting involved in some aspect of that can be very helpful to your business and your sanity. As TuckooandMooCow grows, I'd like to eventually be much more self-sufficient and not purchase settings, but make them myself.

I haven't had a full day off since November, but I'm happy and the rewards have been worth the effort.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pottery Loved by a Potter

I’ve always been opinionated, especially about what looks good, and really, there should be some sort of syndrome named for how opinionated I am about what is good or bad in pottery. Maybe 2% of all pottery made qualifies as even good, and then only maybe 10% of that qualifies as something I like. So there may be worthwhile pottery that doesn’t make my list but you cannot convince me of that, so don’t even go there!
So here are pieces by a few claymakers whose work enthralls me at the moment:

By Romy and Clare, it’s the organic shapes that push  the barriers of function without being unfuctional that really awe me. And the modern version of hand painted fruit. I just love it, and everything they do!

From HodakaPottery, it’s how harmonious and quiet this piece seems, while using so many design flourishes. Really quite stunning.

By JustMare, it’s the soft, subtle glazes paired with the twig handle- such an original interpretation of a mug!

You know I'm a fan of MarciG! Even if she wasn’t my daughter…. I’d be in awe of this huge emerging talent. Her pieces are magical and functional.

By peifferStudios, the organic shape that utilizes both stained and glazed areas is alive with that peace that comes from knowing nature intimately.

This is someone to watch! She has always had a unique vision and she’s really coming into her own lately. Keep your eye on DBabcock!
By WhitneySmith, this pine cone inspired set of nesting bowls is visually sophisticated and flawlessly executed. Whitney is a creative giant whose work evolves in new directions as if a fine geneticist is cross breeding nature with clay.
When I look at pottery, which has been made by human hands for over 10,000 years, the words of Werner Erhard come to mind:
“Any idiot can walk the path when shown it. But out here, there is no path. The path is made by your walking. “
And that’s what I love to see. Someone following their own muse, forging their own path, speaking in an ancient tongue but saying something that takes you into a yet uncharted inner terrain.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cover Girl

I received so many appreciative and encouraging replies to my interview with Handmadeology, which was first published on Marketing Creatively. Thanks, Lisa! It is an honor and pleasure to have my interview  chosen for the April cover.

Pottery is a path of irony in that shaping clay day after day shapes you. Centering the clay on a wheel centers you. The zone of pottery making requires a zen attention to mastery of simple tasks. It is no wonder that success, as a potter, is rich in intangibles, and financially modest. My stepsons have BA’s and are on fine career paths. My daughter will be attending a private university, thanks partially to my pottery income and that of her own. I own a home furnished with fine art and collectibles, with gardens and views that are daily gifts of inspiration. My marriage is happy.

I wake up most days eager to explore a bit of new territory with clay. It’s a good life, overall.