Monday, January 3, 2011

The Clean-Up Continues

This is my first business card.

...It was printed on a heavily textured stock and the pattern on the right of the card was embossed -- no color. My best friend was a printer at the time and he helped me design it. I knew what I wanted, but I wasn't sure it could be done. I wasn't sure I could have the cards embossed that way.

The card doubled as a price tag. They were scored down the middle and I would fold the card and punch the upper corner and use embroidery floss to hang the tag from the pot. It made a pretty snappy looking card, folded that way -- just the embossed front showing.

In my ongoing shop-cleaning, I just stumbled upon a stack of these old cards -- so old that they even give my oldest address. It was a trailer park wherein I built my first pottery -- an 8'X16' shed with a lean-to for the kiln. Within a year I was making 3200 pieces a year out of that little shed. My memories of those starting-out years are fond enough that when I opened a youtube account, I picked the "rr8box99" name for it.

The pattern of the embossed rose came from one of the first books I bought at just about the time I started my pottery. Some of my favorite pots (and strongest influences) have always been the American salt-fired crockery of the 19th century....

You can tell by its well-worn appearance that I not only referred to this book quite often in those years, but it remained out and open in the shop quite a lot.

Here's the page with the jug from which I pilfered the design for my card logo. The book is full of equally winsome pieces -- many of them photographed very well (as is that jug).

Because of my love for that crockery, I spent much of the eighties not drifting too far from the feel of that 19th century crockery in my own work. Though I didn't salt fire, I slip-trailed and even created numerous stencils with which to imitate those wonderful, Spencerian script-influenced designs.

Though that means of decorating ended up being a trap I needed to extricate myself from by the end of the eighties, my love of the old crocks hasn't diminished even a little bit. And a couple of years ago when I found myself in dire need of new plates, I pulled some of those old stencils out of storage. It was the first time I'd touched those stencils in nearly twenty years....

These are my every day dinner plates (In their bisque state. If anyone wants to see what they look like fired, I'd be happy to oblige and photograph them)

I also made two of these deer crocks. I'm happy to say that my dearest friend (a pickin' buddy from Illinois) has one of these, and the other I happily shipped to my very best customer.

I wonder how many other memories I'll kick up from the dusty shelves as I'm making my way through cleaning. The shop's not even close to done. I've only cleaned one small corner, its cabinets, shelves, and warecarts.
When I submitted my shop photo for the "Studio Visits" that was published Jan 2010 in Ceramics Monthly, I seriously thought about cleaning the shop for a really good vanity shot. I've felt the green monster of envy at photos of other potter's immaculate, well-appointed shops (mostly, I get terribly inimidated by the fact that the studio photos in CM always have shelves full of pots!).

You potters can all thank me for not putting you through that. I shot the studio just as is -- junk, mess, clutter, and all.


  1. Hi John!
    What great cards! Would you consider mailing me one? I would like to have one to hang up on my pottery wall - along with pictures of potters and their pottery. My students ( and I) really like your design work.
    Have a great week!

  2. I can send you my current cards, and I can send you an inked version of the old one. Alas, I don't have any embossed cards anymore (I had to photoshop the one in the picture to illustrate what they used to look like). Email me a mailing address and I'll get 'em out to you.



  3. funny how memory lane can pop out and take you for a great walk.
    I love those old pots- there is a tug at the heart when i see them and a smile on the face-like old friends.