Tuesday, May 29, 2012

hiring in the New Economy

If we had written a prediction way back when I was in art school that a time was coming when artists and potters would be thriving while accountants and business majors suffered, it would have been considered a  science fiction farce. It's funny how things change.

Last week I interviewed a woman for a packing position in my start-up business, Lee Wolfe Pottery. It started up in 1976, and became something you might recognize as a business in 2009. Suddenly everything I've ever loved about pottery is wildly popular, and demand for my work since I discovered internet sales is way up. I've managed this growth by making multifunctional work stations in my home such as ping pong table/pack and shipping center. Dining room/order processing.

While this now looks entirely ordinary to me, I could see the interviewee, a 40ish woman, trying valiantly to hide  her disbelief that she was even in a place of business, let alone one in a rapid growth phase with opportunities for advancement.

When offered an hourly wage projected to double in the first year, she decided she was better off with her Plan A, which is to pay for more courses in Excel, tax preparation, and accounting. My husband kindly pointed out to her that these jobs are now easily outsourced to India for $3/hr. She gave another dubious look, matching the one I saw as I said "here is my studio," which looks like someone set up a summer camp in the 2 car garage. I know what she is probably thinking. Her kids are grown so it is time to resume the life she gave up to raise them as a single mom. She will go to college. She will take the practical courses.

So much has changed! Little internet home based businesses just like mine are doubling our numbers every 3 years. We are hiring, while 65% of recent college grads are unemployed. You might just want to learn what it takes to process shipping from someone's ping pong table while we find something on Hulu to watch and take breaks in the backyard garden. Welcome to the new economy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bowls that hold memories

My new works celebrate family. I have designed my popular love birds bowl to include family groups- mama, daddy and small birds arranged in gestures around the rim of a hand built bowl. I will have some listed around June 1st on my website.

This little bowl was designed for Mothers Day, and I saw myself and my daughter as a young toddler in it. I recall that time when I was always turned partly towards her, one eye watching.

This morning I saw these bowls on a shelf and another image came to me from long ago, of Marcella wearing those saggy jean shorts that go over a diaper. Her dad was changing a tire, and she stood by his side, holding that spokey tool that has something to do with lug nuts.

One of Ken's favorite pictures is he and the boys when they were impossibly small, one on each side, Ari no longer than his arm.

And I recall my own father, listening to the update on my day at school, as if this were the more important news of the day.

And I thought, if these bowls bring back so many memories of the good stuff from my own past with merely a glimpse, the series will be one that I will pursue for a long time.

I put this Daddy and Baby Bird bowl   (yup, same bowl, seen in a different light) on Pinterest this morning. The first one sold within 5 minutes. I hope the buyer saw a moment from his own life, one that brings him pleasure, as he decided to purchase it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Opening the Kiln

Penguin wedding cake toppers

On Sunday morning, I get up early to unload my kiln and list new pieces in the afternoon. Here are the penguins! They were thrown, off centered and thrown again. Then the features were sculpted. I'm so happy with the lifelike expressions.
Here they are with the rest of the kiln load. The Birds Nest casserole is also pretty awesome, as are the flower bowls.

These are the Mama and Baby Bird bowls. Most of them are already sold but a few are still available, at LeeWolfePottery. Each of these birds is formed individually, so it takes hours to make this many, yet I never rush through it. Each bird must have a lifelike gesture to it. Some come alive quickly and some take more time, and they all get as much attention as needed. The little hand built bowls must be carefully formed, too. This rustic style doesn't mean that they are carelessly made! I like a certain flowing gesture to my organic shapes.. They must also sit well without wobbling, and support the birds in balance. One of the rewards I get is knowing that dozens of moms will open their present this Mother's Day to find a little piece of art.

Now I have some time to plant a few container gardens with organically grown violas we got yesterday at the Herb Festival.  Hope you all have a day of smiles.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lessons from the nesting birds

This morning I awoke to a furious lecture from doves nesting in a tree. My cat had crept too close to their home, and the daddy shooed Wally away with wings opening and shutting in wild menace. Mama bird sang with frenzied staccato. Wally backed away.

Motherhood brings out this strange layer of love. Parenthood makes of us both nurturers and warriors. I will remember this as I make my mama and baby bird bowls. How love is both tender and fierce.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Forty Years of Zen

new flower bowls, available soon on Lee Wolfe Pottery

I have practiced Zen meditation for 40 years. Perhaps I have been practicing longer, as I recall days as a child watching leaves float on a stream and letting my mind float out of myself into the flow of fresh water, and letting an entire summer day pass in this serene mental vacancy.

Quite paradoxically, I am prone to ranting and swearing over a news story, an opinion I don't like, or how the type is getting smaller I SWEAR IT IS! on every single publication the older I get.

I like to think that the real me is the Zen-ified one, and that the angry raving person is just a reasonable reaction to all those freaking idiots who haven't learned to keep their mouth shut!...but essentially, I feel very at home in myself when I'm raving, and sometimes I even enjoy it, especially with other people who like to get pissed off and make snarky remarks while we are drinking their good wine.

I thought, many years ago, that the anger would leave me entirely one day and I would be left with only perfectly loving feelings and a desire to serve humanity. This has not occurred, so far. Lately, I notice a kind of paradox in everyone. The people I know who are the absolute smartest in some ways are appallingly dumb in others. The kindest people can be mean to themselves.

In case you were wondering, this hasn't the slightest thing to do with flower bowls. These are just the empty vessels my hands shaped while I was thinking about all this.