It’s that time of year again! It’s time for you, my customers to show us what kind of jokes you’ve got and what weird kind of ornament you want to hang on your tree this Christmas. It’s been a good year for weird stories in the news, so there is lots of material out there for us to work with. As always, the person or persons who come up with the best design(s) will win an ornament with their design on it and the bragging rights to having come up with this year’s winning design. Here are a few guidelines for coming up with a winning entry:
Keep it simple! I need to be able to hand-draw this design on a two inch diameter ceramic ornament. Elaborate designs are too hard to reproduce.
Try to tie in the holiday theme. The Balloon Boy joke below works so wonderfully well because it brings in the holiday verbiage.
Make it something that will just get better as the years go on. What current event do you want to remember every year as you trim your holiday tree?
My blog post from five weeks ago featuring an x-ray of my broken arm is pretty sad, but the good news now is that I’m recovering well and I managed to throw about 350 pieces in the past few weeks. Yes Virginia, there will be a Christmas season in Wallyworld! Throwing pots with a recovering broken arm isn’t easy, but the good part of it is that I can finally say that I’ve suffered for my art. I suppose I could have just taken a couple months off and bailed on the holiday season (my busiest time of year by far, ugh!). But I really like my job and I don’t want to let my fans and galleries down this year. Look for lots of pots out of the kiln and ready to ship on November 11th. Feel free to order as much stuff as you can everybody, because we’re back in business!
Unfortunately, that headline is not a joke. Last weekend I tripped on a poorly designed speed bump in a cross walk and I managed to fracture my humorous bone in four places. On Thursday I had two hours of surgery to install a titanium plate and screws. It looks like I’ll be laid up for a few months. Fortunately, I have full use of my hands, but throwing pots is out of the question for a while now. We’re going to limp through a glaze firing in the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll just have to see how out goes with wheel work in the following months. I’ll post something here when I’m able to throw again. Below is the scene of the crime. I swear, those bumps should be painted yellow instead of white:
Here’s a new design that came out of last week’s firing: “I forgot to tell you… This dip was infused with pot.” It’s a variation on our wildly popular “LSD in the dip” bowl and it sells for $34.00 in our online store. Also new this week is our new mug for teachers: “This school would be a great place if it weren’t for all the !#@**!!! students!!” It sells for $28.00 and we have a limited supply of them. You can click on the pics below to see close-ups of the design work.
YIKES! How could we have known that all the pot smoke floating around Colorado would mix with all the fracking fumes and wake up Ganjamora, the giant monster that old time prospectors used to howl about around the campfire back in the 1800s. Man, if there was one industry I would credit for inspiring this design, it would have to be the ad companies that are currently flooding our Colorado airwaves with commercials designed to assure us that fracking is good and wonderful for all of us. If they have to spend so much goddamn money convincing us it’s perfectly safe, I’ll bet it isn’t. But enough of my soapbox, you can buy this little soapbox of a joke on mugs, plates and bowls in my online store!
We had so much fun making last month’s tomato art pots, I created a few more pieces that are variations on the themes explored in this series. These mugs are one-of-a-kind items and can be found in the deluxe funny mug section of my online store. If you don’t see them there, it means they have already been sold. My favorite is “DOGANETICS”, based on the all-time best selling book by L. Dog Hubbard:
A few months ago I got a call from Meg, the owner of Art and Inspiration Gallery in Nashville, TN. She invited me to make some one of a kind tomato art pots for the Tomato Art Festival they have there every year the second weekend in August. It’s a really big event, the largest of its kind in the United States with a parade, an art festival, a tomato beauty contest, a cooking contest, a tomato queen, a tomato haiku contest, and zillions of other weird facets of tomatoalia. So I used this project as a prompt for creativity and last week we had some really good times in the Wallyware design think tank. I wish I had allocated more time for this project, because it turns out there are an unlimited amount of crazy design ideas you can come up with when you get rolling on the subject of tomatoes. You can see all nineteen of the pots I came up with in my Facebook album, “The Nashville Tomato Series”. Here are a few of my favorite pieces that came out of the kiln this morning:
“Tomatonetics” is a riff on the cover of L. Ron Hubbard’s book, “Dianetics.” No, I’m not going to post a link to the Church of Scientology. I’m paranoid enough about posting this picture on my blog.
“Are we not men? We are tomatoes!” pretty much drew itself. I love H.G. Wells and Devo.
I made four of these “tomato pedestals” as a place to put your prized tomato. This one has brainwashed devotees around the base saying, “I sold my house and car for The Great Tomato.” And, “He’s going to make me a movie star!” And finally, “I’m carrying The Great Tomato’s baby!” Remember, I only made one of each of these items….
Ritual sacrifice, anyone? Yup, this one is all about the dark ritual of murdering a tomato.
“Tomatozilla” was the very first thing I drew for this series. Like I said, we really only scratched the surface on the potential for tomato art. So if these items sell well at this year’s show, I’m in for making more next year because it’s just too much fun to create stuff like this. Here’s how I decorated one of the packing boxes we shipped the pots out in today:
P.S. Good news! All nineteen of these pieces sold at the show. I think that means we’ll do some more for them next year. Yay!
This picture has a great story. Way back in 1991, we lived in Los Angeles and my daughters, Robin and Monica were two years old and six months. It was December, we were shipping pots like mad for the holidays and I came up with a really fun art project for Robin and I to do. We laid out a couple dozen blank shipping boxes, broke out the poster paints and glitter and went to town on the blank boxes. The next day we had an “art opening” in the driveway and we took some pics. I remember we wore the sunglasses because we were “way-cool artists.” All those boxes got shipped out during the following weeks and a lot of that glitter ended up all over the bottom of the UPS truck. I have a vivid memory of the poor UPS guy carrying out the boxes and his extremely hairy arms were covered with glitter. Good times!
So I found this photo as I was frantically digging through our entropy-impaired family photo collection because Robin had called an hour earlier. She needed a pic for the lead-in shot for her interview with me and she had to make a deadline. Finding this image was a godsend and it brought back some wonderful memories. You gotta read this interview! I can’t rave enough about what a great job Robin did on it. We chatted about how I became a potter, Wally’s connection with the O.J. Simpson trial and our shared memory of the time I won a year’s supply of ice cream in an ice cream bowl show. I was so touched by her words and it was truly the nicest Fathers’ Day gift I’ve ever received. You can read the interview here. I had a great day yesterday even though both Robin and Monica were out of cell phone range and I didn’t get to talk to them. Monica was hiking on a glacier in Iceland after completing her first year of teaching 7th and 8th graders, and Robin was at a girls’ rock band retreat somewhere in the woods near Seattle. When your kids are happy, you are happy.
Designing my new astrology mug series turned out to be a lot more work that I thought it would be, but I managed to learn lot in the process. The “Mercury is in retrograde!” design has been selling really well, so it seemed like a natural thing to delve deeper into the cosmic gift market. I thought it would be simple enough to come up with a new design each month as the astrological signs rolled around, but when I got a wholesale order for three of each design, I was forced to speed up the original production schedule. Last week I found myself spending a massive amount of time pouring over the descriptions of each zodiac sign and trying to come up with a solid take on each of the remaining six star signs.
The design process is pretty simple: first, you do a funny drawing of the zodiac sign for the front of the mug, then you find a famous person to exemplify that sign, and finally you have to cram in some random ideas about that sign to complete the basic thesis of “this is what these people are like.” My favorite part of the process was searching for celebrities that fit the sign. Sagittarius people are born entertainers? How about Bette Midler?! Capricorns are good at following complex plans? Let’s do Buzz Aldrin! Coming up with these cartoon caricatures is one of the simple joys of being an artist. I really had fun with it (see Alice Cooper, above). But being the arbitrator of describing what somebody’s personality is like based on the day they were born was a taxing burden for me. Why? Because I don’t believe in astrology.
The thing I learned about this widely held belief system is that the verbiage used in the zodiac sign descriptions are like the ingredients used in Italian food. You start to hear the same words over and over like, “sensitive”, “passionate”, “independent”, “dependable”, etc. This is the same way you find a repetition of pasta, cheese, tomato sauce and basil in Italian cuisine. They are all more similar than they are different and we tend to gravitate towards an astrological personality trait description when it fits us. I found myself falling for the whole, “Wow! That’s just like me (or her or him)” feeling when an astrological keyword rang true for myself or someone I know. I am totally like a Libra, except for the Libra qualities that don’t fit me. I know, that’s a really Libra thing for me to say, right?
At any rate, this was a fun project to take on and I hope they end up selling well. I think this is the kind of stuff that I do best because they are warm, wacky and personal. I tried to put a “warning” joke in the spot where a right-handed person looks when they are using the mug. My favorite of these was Sagittarius where “loves adventure” is depicted by a guy skydiving into a shark’s waiting mouth. Like I said, creating these designs was a really fun project. These are for sale right now and forever in my online store and quantities are limited, of course. You can click on the thumbnail pics below to get a larger image of the designs.
Hooray! The drought for new Wally material is over! The start of this design came last weekend, when I was at a party talking to a woman who owned a gluten-free bakery in Seattle. I was enjoying hearing how she ran her business, but on the back of my mind I really wanted to ask her if she had bought into that whole GLUTEN IS SOOOOOO BAD FOR YOU! mindset. I’m glad I didn’t take the conversation in this direction, because I might have gotten on my soapbox about how tired I am of diet Nazis who have a giant list of things one shouldn’t eat. But the gluten bug got stuck in my mind and I realized that this topic has to be covered in Wally’s world. So here’s my lighthearted poke at people who rave about how great they feel now that they’ve sworn off so much of the food I love to eat. This design is available in mugs, plates and bowls in my online store, of course.
And I’m halfway through my design challenge for 2014: to come up with a mug for each one of the twelve astrological signs. The process is a lot of fun. After researching the alleged personality traits of the astro-archetype, I pick a famous person from history and put together the imagery. My favorite moment in this sometimes arduous task came when, after reading that Leos love to party, I found out that Andy Warhol was indeed a Leo! So here are the six I’ve done so far. You can click on the thumbnail pics below to see a larger image. Cool B-day gifts, huh? They are begging for you to buy them in my online store.
Last November I started making a video for my daughter’s middle school English class. Monica is teaching 7th and 8th graders in Phoenix, AZ and they are reading Linda Sue Park’s Newbery award winning book, “A Single Shard.” It’s a beautiful story about a 12-year-old orphan boy in 12th century Korea who becomes an apprentice to a master potter. The book does a great job describing pottery making in the 12th century and this gave Monica and I the idea that I should somehow be a resource for this book. A lot of her students haven’t been exposed to pottery in any way, so a video seemed like a good idea. I shot the first section of my video at the end of last year, and now that they are reading the book, I got the inspiration to finish the project.
The basic concept of the video is to walk the viewer through my studio and production methods and compare and contrast pottery making as I do it with how it was done in the 12th century. The real revelation for me was that the clay aspect of the process really isn’t that much different now from how they did it 900 years ago. But the ease with which I’m able to procure my raw materials, fire my kiln and ship my pots is where our two eras are light years apart. This video is in three parts, with an “Extras & Bloopers” feature, of course! I’m really glad I took on this project, not just to help out Monica and her students, but to get my studio processes documented for posterity. I hope my customers and fans enjoy this peek at our small pottery factory in Colorado!
This week’s firing yielded a nice assortment of new items. Top of the list are four new cat bowl designs: psycho killer, bad cat, happy cat and wild cat. These bowls are approximately three inches tall and four and a half inches in diameter. They sell for $29.00 each and can be purchased in my online store. You can click on the pictures below to get a larger view of these items. Check ‘em out!
And due to the great success of my “MERCURY IS IN RETROGRADE!!!” mug, I’ve decided to wade further into the murky waters of astrology with this year’s ambitious project: a mug for each astrological sign! Rather than racking my brain to come up with all twelve of them at once, I’m taking each one on just before our planet slides into their respective houses. First up is Pisces, February 19th to March 20th. You can buy it for $28.00 at my online store, of course!