Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

My half of the duet I used to play with my fiddler friend, Jesse. Grab your fiddle and play along...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Shipping With The Masters

Every year I ship about 500-600 boxes with my local UPS Store. Because of that, I've gotten to know the shop owners and the folks who work there. So for fun each year at holiday time, rather than wrap my gifts for them, I instead decorate the boxes. My preferred method -- because it is a UPS Store -- is to not try to disguise the fact that the boxes are, indeed, cardboard shipping boxes. I try to leave lots of exposed cardboard and tape. And I use UPS logos (and the color brown) wherever I can.

But I also try to come up with some new spin -- some new decorating idea each year. This year the silly idea came to me all of a sudden in a flash of genius. Okay, not genius. Maybe brilliance. No, not that either. Anyway, the idea came to me. It was obvious....

See, the owner's names are Vince and Lisa.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What To Do?

I'm surprised at how often I'm asked "What can I do with those big bowls of yours?"

Here's an idea -- a salad we just took to a party of 21 people...

And as the salad gets smaller, you get to see more of the bowl...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Very Un-Clobbered

I was laughing right out loud. And I was doing so before the internet ever even invented LOL-ing. I was paging through the immensely huge "The Potter's Dictionary of Materials and Techniques" by Frank Hamer. I came upon a listing for "Clobbering". It's a term for over-embellishing pottery in a (vain) attempt to add value to it.


I love it.

Well, here's my TOTALLY UN-clobbered mug. It is nothing but simplicity, shape, glow, and function. Inspired in form by my love for the paintings of Bruegel the Elder -- paintings of taverns, dances, weddings, and gatherings -- all with contemporary pottery candidly captured throughout the paintings. And it was all pottery that was so compelling in form, I wanted to reach into the paintings and pull them out and hold them.

This mug is hand-thrown with high-fired porcelain. Additionally, it is glazed in my Millring Red glaze and sprayed with a light glow of golden rutile -- enhancing the more than ample globe shape that holds a generous 14 ounces of hot or cold liquid.

Last Night's Firing

Monday, December 19, 2011


Evinrude the boat from shore, Hallelujah
Evinrude the boat from shore, Hallelujah

Wind it up and pull the rope, Hallelujah
Putt-putt, pull again and hope, Hallelujah

Hold the choke when it's chilly and cold, Hallelujah
Back the throttle when the spark takes hold, Hallelujah

Grab the handle, steer from the dock, Hallelujah
Blessed days off of the clock, Hallelujah

Fishing's just great there in the cove, Hallelujah
Bamboo bent double as the bobber dove, Hallelujah

12 inch striper grabbed in the net, Hallelujah
Pan-fried eatin' is good, you bet! Hallelujah

Evinrude the boat ashore, Hallelujah
Evinrude the boat ashore, Hallelujah

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's That Special Season

-O Holy Television-

Soon my family will be gathering from all over the country -- from Texas to Pennsylvania. As a family we really love this time of year when families like us gather to celebrate the birth of Philo Farnsworth -- inventor of the holy television set.

It's a holiday gathering like no other. There will be televisions playing football games in the living room, televisions playing reality shows in the family room, televisions playing cooking shows in the kitchen....even little flatscreen televisions in each of the kids rooms just in case there's a conflict between the cousins over which shows to watch. And they'll all be blaring at just that perfect decibel level -- the level above which it won't be impossible to shout over....but it will be impractical.

I don't know about your family, but my family has a whole list of Television Caroles that we like to sing at this time of year. Well, I guess I should say we used to like to sing them until it finally dawned on us that some of them were too long (had too many verses) to fit in during the commercial breaks. We might miss actual programming.

First we tried shortening the TV Caroles to fit in the breaks. Then, with the advent of tivo, there no longer were commercial breaks, long OR short, in which to squeeze a carole or two. So we gave them up.

We don't miss 'em of my brothers tivo'd last year's American Idol! Between that re-run "Idol" show and the new "Sing-Off!" there will be plenty of music in the Bauman house without all that pesky participatory stuff.

Back in the days before my family was totally converted to Televisianity, we used to, you know, talk and stuff. We'd spend HOURS trying to sus out just how we felt about things, how the world was treating us, what we enjoyed doing, what we thought about the political scene. Trivial, no-account stuff.

Now, television helps us shortcut through all that mudanity. It helps us waste less time on getting to know each other. And television allows us to spend more time on what really matters. Like who is doing well on "Survivor", or who's who in the NFL.

Want to know how that brother you haven't seen in three years feels about the world?'s a handy shortcut that has been made available only through the wonder that is television: Simply ask him if he watchs FOX or MSNBC. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. Not only is it a practical shortcut, but it rids conversation of all that annoying ambiguity that used to muck up family discussions. It's as easy as black and white....ironically, brought to you in living color!

Oh holy set
Your lights are brightly shining
There's a game, and the sound's turned up loud

Long lay the world
So bored and unenlightened
'Til you appeared, put remotes in our hands

A thrill of hope
'Round the clock news cycles
We now can tell
Exactly who we are

Fall on the barcalounger
Oh hear those programs ringing
It's simply divine
The night TV was born

Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Luminaries

Like the moon's light

We may shine many a time
But light like the sun's?
...maybe once.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Birds In The Hand

Jar from yesterday's firing

I've been asked about my post concerning taking special/custom orders. So, fellow potters, Why is a special order not the proverbial "bird in the hand" and, as such, better than two in the bush, you ask?

It took me a number of years to finally figure out why taking orders didn't work when, on the face of it, it seemed that an order was exactly that "bird in the hand" -- a sure thing. But most potters I know figured out some time ago that two birds awaiting in the bush are already going to be theirs just as soon as we can get to them. And the perverse thing is that the order is not actually a bird in the hand, rather, it is bird repellent.

Why, you ask?

I've come up with at least four reasons:

1. Not everything a potter makes is equally cost effective where production time is concerned. And the perverse thing is that orders are, more often than not, the least cost effective thing we can make. We rarely have the benefit of practice over multiple pieces to get the order as perfect as the body of our regular work. As a special order, it likely has elements we've never even tried. Those factors all add up to a very non-cost-effective piece.

2. It is not possible to match the order to the expectation. When pottery, by its very kiln-fired nature is unpredictable, it's never going to come out as the customer imagined it when they ordered it. Sure, it might come out even better than they expected.

Yeah, right.

3. And somewhat connected to #2. What taking special orders does is culls from the pool of possible customers a sub-group of customers who are the least satisfied with your work as currently presented. If they loved what you did as a potter, they would likely take pots from your stock of already made pieces.

4. And here's the real clincher: Most potters I know are already going to sell all the inventory they are capable of making in a year's time. Most potters I know have one predominant determiner of their annual income, and that is how much inventory they can make in a year. Therefore, taking an order does not increase a potter's income -- it merely predetermines what he/she will be making next.