Updated: Jan 23, 2019
On my way to the second day of a local show this morning, I’m flagged down and stopped by a policeman holding a speed radar gun. I’ve been zapped at 36 in a 25mph zone. Oops. I’m usually much more attentive to speed limits but allowed myself to become distracted by a little slip of paper held down by the passenger side windshield wiper. I could just make out a bit of handwriting and my thoughts went immediately to someone letting me know they hit my car. Why hadn’t I noticed it on my way home yesterday, I can only blame on being tired from the 12 hour day at the show venue.
Gratefully, the police lets me off with a warning, and I drive -slowly- to the university parking lot I used yesterday. I even park in the same spot. With a slow breath I walk around and carefully check over the back and side of the car before reaching for the little note. No damage. Not even the protective dust layer is disturbed. The note reads:
Do what makes you happy. On th reverse side, Pass this along to someone.
As I walk through campus to the show and my waiting tables full of pottery, also pretty much undisturbed since set up yesterday morning, I slip the note with its karmic reminder under the wiper of a parked Kia.
The kicker here is that I’d left the house with my normally high level of enthusiasm wavering. After a long day with little foot traffic and only $21 in sales the day before, I’d spent the previous evening in a funk. This was about to become my worst show ever. Especially since I had already spent almost half that day’s income in the bakery next door.
In the time it took to shower and dress this morning I ran the gamut of questions in my head, including:
Are my $4 to $45 price points too low? Too high? Too little inventory/variety? Or too much?Is my work too colorful? Should I tone it down?
The general comments are nothing but positive. Everyone ‘loves’ my work. So why do I not have more success? Truthfully, I have little business savy, but I would like to think I have learned enough over the past decade or two to come closer to achieving a level of business success that does more than just pay for my expenses.
Perhaps this isn’t the right venue for my work. It is the 4th of July weekend in a busy little university town. There were less than 100 people that came through yesterday. Today is Sunday, and though the farmers market outside is buzzing, less than two dozen shoppers have cruised past my space. According to my artisan neighbor vendor (stained glass), Sundays are traditionally busier. I hope so. There are four hours left before we are to pack up, and I am at a negative $28 if I deduct my space fee and yesterday’s lunch from my sales.
For the time being I am trying to keep from nodding off. Little chance for a nap though, it seems my bra has sprung a leak and the escaping underwire stabs at my sternum if I slump in the chair.
Fine, I think to myself, open up the sketchbook and get some designs on paper for this week’s studio work. Out of the sketchbook falls a note I wrote to myself months ago:
Don’t ever stop creating. Make something. Every. Single. Day.
Despite the poor sales and thoughts of having to get a new bra, I’m smiling, remembering when and why I wrote that. Making pottery makes me happy. Seeing people smile when they hold my work makes me happy.
No, it isn’t easy work. But like anything else in life, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Pottery is heavy to pack and transport to shows. Production takes time, patience and skill. Glazes can create phenomenal results or yet another pot for the shard pile. Even as I write this, I find myself distracted by how the light stikes a beautiful blue glaze on a bowl in front of me. A new glaze recipe that turned out better than I’d hoped for.
Then again, that same light bulb is highlighting a beautifully carved dish, now a candidate for the shard pile because of an amber glaze that turned an unfortunate runny brown more associated with symptoms of a stomach virus.
So it goes, the highs and lows that exist in being an artist and potter. Right venue, wrong weekend, or right weekend, wrong venue? I can only say that I am going to take that anonymous note to heart and do what makes me happy, as I will with my rediscovered reminder to continue to create. Every. Single. Day.
P.S. A flurry of shoppers paraded through shortly after I finished typing these words. I am happy to report I am well in the positive and have far fewer pieces to take home! Even the amber carved dish destined to meet my hammer has found its forever home.