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We’re loading up the kiln this week with lots of pots aimed at the upcoming “appreciation holidays”: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the graduation season. Here’s a rundown of our top gift items for these celebrations. I highly recommend visiting the new section on my online store where you can see them all grouped together. Here is a collection of pics of some of the items you can find there:
For Mother’s Day, this set of three nesting bowls is an awesome gift to bestow upon anyone who loves making food. Yes it’s kitchen-y, but they are such a treat to use and display. If you like the look of this set, there are a lot of other great red pots in the Ohata Kaki Red section of our online store. We’ve also got a slew of mugs that are perfect for Mom’s big day. Here are three really good ones: The queen of caffeine, “Holy shit! That’s good coffee!” and “I am carrying Big Foot’s love child”.
We have two excellent teacher mugs that are great for the guiding light in your child’s academic world: “I am your teacher” or “Spacey kindergarten teacher vs. grumpy Republican” could be the perfect item to show your kid’s teacher that you really appreciate the work that they’ve done this year.
For the graduates, we’ve got a couple of great mugs, too: “How many cups of coffee does it take to graduate?” comes in both male and female, and “Wally goes to college to play beer pong” is a custom item. You need to specify the college he or she goes to so we can get the logo on Wally’s sweatshirt, and be sure to allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. We might be able to do it quicker if the kiln schedule allows. SIDEBAR: I will be out of town the second week of May because my youngest daughter, Monica, is graduating from the University of Puget Sound with a BA in History. She’s an amazing kid who took classes throughout Asia last year, met the Dalai Lama and climbed to Everest base camp, among other amazing adventures. A week after graduation she begins the Teach for America program and next fall she’ll be an English teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, I’m a proud parent!
And last but not least, our very best Father’s Day gift is the classic “Why we like Dad” mug. It says it all! Actually, practically my entire line is great for wacky Father’s Day presents. For a super-deluxe gift, you could consider something from the new Bowie-Pop mug series. What could be a cooler gift for Dad than the “Chairman of the Bored” mug?
Posted 3 weeks, 4 days ago. Add a comment
Here at the Wallyware headquarters, we are always searching for new niche markets to cater to. Over the past few years, Robin (my oldest daughter) has helped me appreciate the wild and wacky world of astrology and tarot cards. I still don’t believe in this stuff, but I fit the profile of a Libra perfectly. So I guess half of me is buying into it while the other half is viewing it with a skeptical eye. The Mercury in retrograde phenomena is a really fascinating concept. What’s really happening is that the planet Mercury is moving backwards in the night sky. But what astrologers say is happening is all kinds of mayhem: things break, people have trouble communicating, and everything has a tendency to get all wonky. I love the idea of a “the shit’s gonna hit the fan” event that can be predicted just like clockwork. So when is the next time Mercury goes into retrograde? Tuesday, November 6th: the day of the election. YIKES! You heard it here first. Tell everyone you know that they only have 18 days to prepare for the worst and they can purchase one of these new mugs at our online store.
It’s always a thrill to see your heroes in person, and last weekend I was able to see one of mine: filmmaker/author/actor John Waters. He gave an inspiring talk about his life and career at The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Lakewood, CO. I went with my daughter, Robin and we sat with a group of her journalist/musician friends. As the evening progressed, we managed to snag some passes from other journalists for the meet and greet party after the lecture, where I was able to tag along and take the above picture! What stuck with me most from the evening is how gracious and appreciative John Waters is of his success as the so-called “Pope of Trash.” I took this thought back to the studio on Monday morning where hundreds of pots were waiting for me to decorate them, and I realized that I’m pretty darn lucky to be doing what I do for a living, too. So last week I came up with six new designs! They are, of course, for sale in my online store. Here are the stories behind the pots:
Thank you Rush Limbaugh, for going totally crazy on the subject of birth control a few weeks ago and giving those of us in the humor business some great new material to work with. This cartoon came together really quickly as I thought about how creepy and weird the GOP is becoming with regards to women’s issues. I think this one is going to be a real hit this year!
OK. So if you don’t know the story behind Schrodinger’s cat experiment, just move on to the next design because I’m not going to explain it here. But I will say that this cartoon came to life when I read “Physical Reality and Common Sense” by Walter G. Edwards (my dad!). As I poured over his descriptions of special relativity theory and quantum mechanics, the thought experiment about the cat who was both dead and alive at the same time stuck in my mind and I realized that this is the kind of thing PETA would have a hissy fit over.
Politics isn’t the only thing that’s dividing our country these days. Close behind is food, with gluten being the number one issue in this gastronomic civil war. I’m taking a stand here with people who like to eat wheat, so if you are gluten intolerant, this bowl isn’t for you. Bon Appetit!
I’ve come to realize that my best selling bowls all specifically state the food item to be consumed in them: guacamole, ice cream, cat food, cocktail nuts, etc. So here’s another cool joke about one of my all-time favorite foods: onion dip! Pass the breath mints, please.
Here’s a pair of mugs that are shamelessly aimed at specific gift markets. I’m not quite sure why the king is lazing around all day while the queen is working like mad, but they do make a nice pair, don’t they?
And last but not least, I have another great story about meeting an inspiring person. My daughter, Monica, is on a nine month trip in Asia with a group of twenty-five other college students from the University of Puget Sound. They have been taking classes in Mongolia, China, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia and India. The day after Robin and I saw John Waters, I received an amazing email from her describing their meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India on March 10, Tibetan National Uprising Day. Her words were so touching and she was so moved by the event. I’m still marveling at the fact that my two daughters were halfway around the world from each other on the same calendar day having oddly similar moving experiences. For those of you who have never seen Monica, she is just to the left of the Dalai Lama, holding his hand.
I’m decorating another kiln load next week, so look for more new stuff here in the beginning of April!
Posted 1 year, 1 month ago. Add a comment
Over the holidays, I had a five week break from making pottery because our family took an amazing trip to Asia. Monica is spending her junior year in college in the PacRim program at the University of Puget Sound. She and twenty-four other students are taking classes in Mongolia, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and India. I highly recommend taking a look at her blog to learn more about all the things she’s been doing on the other side of the world. I’m so impressed with that kid, to say the least! So her adventure led to our adventure coming to visit her for Christmas in Hong Kong. Lori and I spent eight days touring China the week before Christmas, and while we were in Hangzhou, a capital city in the Yangtze River Delta we read about a “Song Dynasty Kiln Museum” in our tourist guide book. It turned out to be a real find as it’s a major archeological site for Chinese porcelain. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the hills in this region were filled with climbing dragon kilns. These wood-fired kilns get their name from the flames that leap out of their mouths and sides when they are fired.
These kilns were huge! The one at the site pictured above is 44 yards long and could hold thousands of pots. Besides the pottery studio and kiln excavations, there were numerous displays of Song Dynasty pots as well as an impressive collection of contemporary porcelain pieces. When I started making pots in the 1970s, it was the Chinese celadons and copper reds that inspired me the most. It was such a treat to wander through this museum and think about the long history of my profession.
We had so many great experiences on this trip and some of them involved finding food. After the kiln museum, we had a meal in a true “hole in the wall” restaurant. It was delicious, cheap and a bit chilly due to the holes in the walls!
And last but not least, check out the rare Ming Dynasty traffic cone that I discovered!!!
Posted 1 year, 3 months ago. Add a comment
Here’s a new mug handle design that is actually an old mug handle design. I used to make a lot of these “loop mugs” when I first started making pottery for a living back in 1978. It’s got a really comfy grip even though it looks kind of clunky. They are for sale in my online store. This mug handle was a mainstay in my pre-Wally reduction glaze line (1978 – 1984). A really interesting artifact from that era are the “volcano mugs” that my wife Lori and I created back then. Lori’s father grew up in Castle Rock, Washington and his family farm was flooded the day after Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. That year, he gave me some coffee cans filled with ash from this eruption, and the pure ash made an excellent cone ten glaze. Lori did the artwork on the outside of the mugs and we sold them at craft fairs for years. I’m guessing we produced about a hundred of them over a period of three years. Thank goodness I kept one for posterity!
Posted 1 year, 11 months ago. 3 comments
I always like rolling out the last firing of the year because it’s filled with unusual custom orders and the pots my wife and I give our friends for Christmas. Over the years we’ve done some really nice items: corked bottles filled with our family’s favorite BBQ curry seasoning, hand-painted tiles, custom house numbers, cobalt blue dip bowls, and more. This year we came up with my all-time favorite gift: fudge jars! I had so much fun throwing, trimming and glazing these pots, and the end results were wonderfully successful. We filled them with homemade fudge and shipped them out the week before Christmas. The glaze is a traditional iron red called “Ohata Kaki”. It fires best in an oxidation atmosphere at cone 10 or 11 and it’s really consistent from firing to firing. I made a set of dinnerware for us this year and it’s such a treat to use. I’m thinking about doing a whole line of dinnerware next year. Stay tuned! Here are some pics of the process:
The square knob on the top is thrown after the lid is trimmed. It was inspired by the square shape of the pieces of fudge.
Dipping the pots in the glaze is fun because you can get variations on the glaze surface by controlling the drips of the glaze. It’s done outside because that glaze is as messy as blood. I have no idea how Dexter cleans up so well after he murders his victims.
It’s so much faster glazing these pots than my hand decorated pots! The bowls in the center are french onion soup bowls, one of my gifts to Lori this year.
Here’s the finished series. I was kind of rushed the day we got them out of the kiln and would have liked to take more photos. I’m really excited about the prospect of doing some simple earthy pots next year!
Posted 2 years, 4 months ago. Add a comment
Note: this is my contribution to our family holiday newsletter for 2010. It is all true and not embellished at all.
If there is any better proof that I chose one of the least financially gainful and secure career cards in The Game of Life, it’s the fact that I had to take a job with the 2010 U.S. Census in order to pay my bills this year. Sixteen dollars and seventy-five cents per hour was my main motivation for doing a three month stint with the government, but in the end I managed to get a whole lot more: a collection of crazy stories that illustrate the current collective psyche of our nation.
The forty-hour training week quickly morphed into a group therapy session for failed entrepreneurs. My fellow enumerators told a variety of life stories with one common theme: “Business totally sucks these days”. But our supervisors livened things up with their passion for government service (really!) and their passion for the opposite sex. I’m not making this up. Picture a stocky southern woman with bright red hair constantly getting sidetracked and telling us the most bizarre stories of her life. We learned the sad origin of her teenage grandson’s tattoo, the miracle diet and exercise regimen that allowed her to loose over two hundred pounds in less than a year and, over and over, how much she loves to look at hunky guys. If I had gotten it all on tape, it would have made a valid sexual harassment lawsuit. One of the many jaw-droppers of the week was coming back from lunch to find her giving one of the men in our group a back rub. It’s your tax dollars at work, folks!
While the job of collecting census data is pretty low-key and easy by many standards, there is one significant downside: tea-party zealots. Apparently we have a lot of them here in Colorado and oddly they all have the same script down for making the census workers’ task more difficult. It’s a weird mix of extreme hostility towards the government and simplistic romanticism about the U.S. Constitution and the founding fathers. Every time I tried to explain to these stubborn fanatics that what I was doing is in the constitution and has been going on since 1790, they simply regurgitated a bunch of random Glenn Beck rhetoric. It turns out Mr. Beck did a long anti-census rant on air last spring and it became these morons’ mantra on how to deal with people like me. One woman actually said the words, “take away our oppressive government and let the magic of capitalism save this great nation of ours”. The winner of anti-government freak award was a really tough biker dude who immediately yelled at me when I pulled my car into his driveway. His house looked like a fortress with animal skulls everywhere, and I later learned from his neighbors that he routinely shoots out the streetlights at the fire station across the street from his home.
So if you are looking for cheap thrills in the year 2020, I highly recommend taking a job with the U.S. Census.
Posted 2 years, 5 months ago. Add a comment
Here’s something completely different….. dinnerware that is 100% humor free! We just rolled out a kiln load with this really wonderful set of these ohata khaki glazed dishes for our own use at home. I really love this iron saturated glaze and it makes me want to make more of these simple pots. If anyone out there reading this is looking for a new set of dinnerware, send me an email and we can talk prices.
Last week was a good one for my daughter, Robin. It started when her riot grrrl band, “Lust Cats of The Gutters” received an impressive write up in famed rock critic Everett True’s blog. A few days later the Denver Post Reverb music blog featured their song, “Nothing Cool Happens on Dates” in the “steal this track” feature. Then a few days later their debut CD (it’s really just a demo they recorded a while back in our basement) got a positive review in Denver’s “Westword” newspaper. How cool is all this?!!!! And to top it all off, she turned twenty-one on Friday!
Posted 3 years ago. 1 comment
Halloween is for exhibitionists and St. Patrick’s Day is for drunks, but my favorite second string holiday is April Fool’s Day because it celebrates my profession: humor. I love the fact that nobody even knows the origin of this holiday which was first recorded in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1392. In honor of this day, I have painstakingly added a bunch of weird odds and ends items to my online store. The above piece was a collaboration with my former assistant John Lacey, and it was exhibited in the 2002 Colorado Men in Clay show. The thumbnails below are just some of the pots that are available on this hallowed idiot’s holiday. It is important to note that if you don’t see them in the online store, it means that they were snapped up by an earlier shopper. Better luck next year!
One of my favorite April Fool’s Day memories is that of a prank that Lori and I pulled on our daughter Monica when she was in the first grade. We have a family tradition of pulling practical jokes on our kids on April Fool’s Day, and they generally (but not always) have gone well. This one could have gone bad, but Monica’s keen sense of mischief saved the day. The joke was simple: we put a note in her lunch that said: “This coupon is good for one FREE PUPPY! Simply take it to the principal’s office and give it to him and he will give you a puppy!” Yes, it’s a knockoff of that great joke about the “free horsie” coupon in Shel Silverstein’s, Uncle Shelby’s ABZs. Monica handled this prank wonderfully well. First she showed it to her teacher who laughed a lot and told her to go to the principal’s office. The principal was, of course dumbfounded and couldn’t produce a puppy. Monica’s memory of this event is that she wasn’t traumatized, and I think she “got” the joke. The fact that she loves pulling pranks nowadays is a testament to the fact that this wasn’t a case of child abuse. Either way, the statute of limitations is long gone because Monica is now in a freshman in college and doing quite well. I wonder how her roommates are doing today?
Posted 3 years, 1 month ago. Add a comment
Welcome to the new Wallyware website! Our old website at www.wallyware.biz will be up for just a few more weeks as we load all the content on to this one. I really like this new domain name as I can’t tell you how many times in the past six years I’ve had to say, “It’s wallyware, spelled W-A-L-L-Y-W-A-R-E dot B-I-Z, that’s Z as in zebra.” And this Wordpress software is really easy to use and update. Kudos to my oldest daughter, Robin for encouraging me to try this and then spending a day of her time to help me put it together. She’s really sharp with this stuff and deserves a lot of credit for the look of this site. It was wonderfully fun to collaborate on the graphics and layout with her. Thanks, Robin!!!
Posted 3 years, 4 months ago. Add a comment