Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SACRED SHARDS: Organized & Spontaneous

I’ve been happily busy this past week or so getting my pottery inventory organized and finishing up designing the photo sheets to submit to additional shows (once I've got enough inventory built up).

I will be participating in the artisan show in Nov and Dec at the art gallery in town. When I took my application and photo sheets down to the gallery manager, she hardly looked at them. She had seen my work before. :-) Had bought one of my necklaces at an outdoor show this summer. (I'd hadn't remembered who she was at first, when she made the purchase.)

Though I needn't have worried so much and the sheets weren't important in this case, I'm glad it served as a motivation to get this piece of promotional material in order.

As an extension of this, I also came up with and executed a workable idea for organizing all the various pottery things I've been making to sell.

I bought a bunch of comic book storage boxes (expensive but just the right size) and affixed stick-on plastic pockets to the outside of each. Then I cut up my photo sheets and glued one picture each to the blank side of a bunch of 3x5 cards. The 3x5 cards slip into the plastic pockets to show what's in each box. Works really well.

Now I can see at a glance what's stored where AND how many of each I've got. I put a post-it note on each card with the quantity in each box. As I sit in my work area I can see what I need to make. The back of each 3x5 card can be used to record in-flow and out-flow of goods, to track what's selling, when and where, and how long things have been on the shelf. Spreadsheets just don't do it for me.

Now I finally feel like I have a handle on all this stuff I've been making and selling, not a huge volume so far, but the potential seems to be there to do much better with a more organized approach. Now I can make more, have a place to store it and find it again when I need it. The 3x5 cards can be moved around if I discover I need to reorganize the goods in a different way.

Because labels weren't stuck permanently to the boxes, I didn't feel I had to do it perfectly the first time or figure out in advance any possible change I might want to make in the future. The flexibility to just get it done and see how it works got me past the procrastination and inertia that often accompanies a project like this.

This preparation has freed me to be more spontaneous with my clay play. I spent 3 hours yesterday up at my work table upstairs, making things. First time in about 2 months. Part of the time was production of 13 "spiral drop" pendants, like the one shown one of my previous posts in this blog. (I'd only made two of those at the time, to test how well they'd sell, and they both did.)

Then I played and made a primitive serving spoon with shell impressions on the handle to go with a confused and lonely serving dish I'd made about a year ago, but hadn't used or sold. Now it has a companion to give it purpose and meaning. :-)

The spoon was another off-shoot of organizing my inventory.

In the process of cleaning up upstairs, I went through a pile of magazine and catalog clippings I'd been saving and taped them onto loose sheets in a binder. Each little scrap of paper represents an idea for a shape, pattern, theme, etc. that can become the jumping off point for creative play. The binder has dividers made out of file folders, cut up and 3-hole punched, so I can organize the ideas into categories. Sometimes I'll scribble notes around the pictures in pencil to remind myself what my original intention was when I saved them.

Though my "Ideas Binder" already contains enough scraps of inspiration to last a lifetime, I continue to gather clippings that catch my fancy. These pile up in a pocket folder until I get the chance to sit down with tape and scissors, and stick them into the binder.

When I want to tickle my imagination, I can leaf through the binder to see what I might like to try that day.

In the case of yesterday‘s primitive pottery spoon, I stumbled upon a picture of several interestingly shaped spoons printed off another artist‘s website. That said, I never, ever copy another artist’s work directly. There would be no fun in that. Instead, my habit is to combine ideas from multiple sources, then allow each project to unfold in it's own unexpected directions.

Like the pockets and movable 3x5 photo-cards on my storage boxes, I use a 3-ring binder with loose-leaf sheets so I can organize and reorganize as the ideas shift and regroup in my mind.

All the materials in my “Ideas Binder” are cheap--scrap paper, clippings from discarded magazines and catalogs, photos printed off the internet, plain manila file-folders, and scotch tape--so my stingy side can't object and short-circuit the process.

I honor the muse by respecting her desire to collect and sort without demanding to know exactly why or what the outcome might be -- and inspiration usually follows.

I thought as I worked on the organizing and creating, that maybe some ideas would be useful to others. Let me know what you think. :-)

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

GAIA LUNA: By Design?

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Gaia Luna, my art garden, now has its own logo.

I constructed its elements from a scanned and altered image of one of my "Spiral Drop" pottery necklaces.

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

During the summer I had designed new packaging for several new necklaces. The "Spiral Drop" is one of 8 new designs that grew from a whole new set of handmade pottery stamps I'd created this past winter.

The scan above was turned into the black and white graphic below using Photoshop.

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

This simple image, in turn, became the germinal design element of the Gaia Luna logo. Each shape, each curve was derived from this basic form.

Stamps created just for fun lead to new necklaces, which lead to new packaging, which unfolded into the garden logo. I like the way it all interrelates and unfolds organically.

This logo combines symbols for the cycles of earth and moon, the cycles of the creative process, and our connection with these as co-creators of life. This image grew from many years of sun drenched of contemplation. It emerged as the culmination of a wonderful, peaceful, abundant summer just past.

The image grew more from a desire for artistic and spiritual expression than from necessity.

I envision painting it on a sign to hang at the garden entrance, printing it on canning labels for jams, relishes and pickles to give as gifts or sell along with my pottery and CDs, ... and who-knows-what else.

The idea is to create what seems right at the time then discover where it leads.

Gaia Luna is the reason I took the summer off from blogging. I've been too busy harvesting armloads of veggies and berries to spend much time at the computer.

I've been busy digging through cookbooks from the library, collecting recipes, and teaching myself to make jam and pickles, can, freeze, and dehydrate piles of produce. I've been busy weeding and composting, watering and petting the cats out in the summer sunshine.

I've been consumed with painting 25, 8-foot sections of purple picket fence to provide more substantial protection from animal intruders for the garden. We'll put up the fence early next spring as soon as the ground thaws. Plans also include an arbor.

I've taken lots of pictures of the garden this summer. I'll begin to post these once the flurry of gardening activity has subsided.

This is a celebration of summer's end, an anticipation of things to come as the seasons turn another time around.

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Sunday, March 11, 2007


~ excerpts from today's journal writing

Deep breaths
Calm body
Still mind

Over the years, I've asked for advice and permission far more often than I really should. I need to give myself back the authority I've handed over to others.

My creative work is both hopeful and haunted. I have both strength and weakness and can hold these two, one in each hand, as I work. Passion and detachment. Independence and interconnection. The synthesis of opposites necessary for growth.

Life is filled with unresolvable contradictions. This is fertile ground for creative work.

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Connect the DOTs

My theme for the next few months is "Connect the Dots". I tend to work on things in isolated islands of intense activity. One day one thing, the next another. I have so many areas of focus that it all becomes rather disjointed. Like dots on a page with only hints of a picture around the edges, and no numbers to tell how to connect them.

I've named the clusters of dots, like constellations, to help me make more sense of them:
  • Heart and Spiral - my songwriting, performing and recording activities
  • Sacred Shards - pottery work and sales
  • Effusive Muse Publishing - my writing project and workshop development
  • Sound Krayons Music - the teaching studio, vocal and songwriting workshops
  • Keys for a Cause - social activism (related to our non-profit LUNCH, Local United Network to Combat Hunger)
  • Gaia Luna - the garden that's more than a garden

Then there are the dots that are just splashes of me, that don't necessarily fit in anywhere.

Constellations, all, clusters of light in the sky over my head, for navigation, telling of meaning and stories, connected through imagination, through action. Right now, though, mostly just dots, disjointed fragments of accomplishment and infrastructure.

How about this? DOTs: Disjointed Organizational Tools

Sounds so corporate.

Sometimes, if I let myself become distracted by a troublesome person, I find I've connected with dots that don't belong to me.

In the past I would let these things hang in isolation in my mind, not allowing myself to see a pattern and it's impact on me. This takes it's toll. I'll never know how many hours, how many days I've lost with thoughtless words and actions reverberating in my head.

I've begun to see the ways I've allowed other people's dots to become part of my design. I've started to recognize where I've drawn lines connecting with their dots instead of my own.

Seeing this, I can choose when to use my eraser and make changes.

I hope I am better equipped to consciously choose to connect, or not, in the future.

My dots. Their dots.

My job in this life is to own my dots, to add some of my own choosing, to draw in the lines that transform dots into meaningful pictures, then use them to navigate toward my destination, whatever that turns out to be.

(c)2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Saturday, February 10, 2007

SACRED SHARDS: Fresh Slabs & New Directions

I went to the pottery studio late yesterday afternoon. It was the first time I'd gone in many weeks, because I'd been sick.

It's amazing how doing something you love can be so energizing. I dragged myself over there yesterday, feeling tired, but knowing that I'd feel even more disappointed and frustrated if another day went by without working on my pottery. I ended up working there for nearly an hour and a half, wedging and rolling out 5, 1/4 inch thick slabs, (3 white, 2 red) working slowly and methodically, enjoying the stillness of the studio and the company of another woman who'd come there to glaze her pieces.

Rather than using cardboard scraps to transport the slabs as I usually do (see photo above), this time I took several small 14x15 inch squares of drywall I'd prepared by ceiling the edges with thin strips of duct tape (very bad to get plaster in clay--it explodes in the kiln). Each slab was transferred from the SlabMats onto a square of drywall then slid into a 16x16 inch square zipper bag purchase from the Uline catalog. I've used some regular drywall, some waterproof, to see which will work best.

When I got home, I was re-energized enough to work for about 3 hours before calling it a night. I sat at the kitchen table, near the woodstove, playing and stamping designs using my most recently fired hand-carved stamps. This morning I have 13 new pendants and 11 new Christmas ornaments ready to go over to the studio for bisque firing, all from just one slab of white clay. These are designs I've not tried before.

Usually, I work almost exclusively in red clay. I like the natural, earthy look is gives. By experimenting with the white clay this time, I began to look at my designs differently, to feel free to try new ideas. I'm hoping to shake myself loose from the things I've already done, to build in new directions.

The pieces that have been selling well, the button box pendants, are things I began to develop nearly 2 years ago. Of course, I'll still continue to make these. They have a story that continues to resonate for me. At the same time, I'm ready to find an artistic direction that reflects who I am in the here and now. I'm excited to discover what that will be.

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


Most of my pottery work, to date, has involved hand building small objects. I've collected an unwieldy assortment of small sculpting tools. So, last year, as a birthday gift to myself, I made this tool roll from scraps of a canvas painter's drop cloth. The design is my own, customized from the features of other tool rolls I've seen in stores.

I personalized it with hand written phrases and mantras composed from my experiences working with clay. I wanted to capture in words the elemental magic I feel as I work.

"Simple tools of transformation . . . hands, mind, imagination."
©2007 Kay Pere - Effusive Muse Publishing

"Artifacts of the Spirit, uneartherd to tell their stories"
© 2007 Kay Pere - Effusive Muse Publishing

"Fire, Water, Wood, Stone / Earth, Air, Silver, Bone"
©2007 Kay Pere - Effusive Muse Publishing

It stands on it's own. The ties that secure the bundle when it's rolled up can be tied through a loop on the opposite edge to make it stand for easy access to the tools.

Pottery is a messy business. Before beginning to cut and sew, I machine washed the canvas in hot water and dried it on high to remove any shrinkage. The writing is permanent, done with a brown sharpie marker, tested on scraps for washability before beginning on the final piece. When the time comes that my tool roll is unrecognizably caked with clay, I can throw the whole thing in the washer, minus the tools of course.
©2007 Kay Pere - Effusive Muse Publishing