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