While I generally consider myself a “dog person”, I sure do make a lot of cat pots these days. Every glaze firing we roll out has dozens of cat bowls and cat mugs in it. Why is the market for cat pottery so good? Does the feline psyche, with its selfish and standoffish nature, make people more apt to try and buy their pet’s love with a funny fancy porcelain food dish? I don’t know. I just know that over the past couple of years, the increasing sales of these items has inspired me to comically catalog the feline personality spectrum. These pieces range in price from $20 – $30 and can be found in the “Cat Pots!” section of my online store. Posted here are the eight bowls, two mugs and one Christmas ornament that we carry. Who knows? If you buy one for your cat, he might reciprocate the kind gesture with a dead mouse or something.
This is turning into a banner year for political pots for me. The “Trump Coffee” mug continues to sell at a brisk pace and I just rolled out a kiln load with twenty of these new “Get on the Trump train!” mugs. Fifteen of them have already been shipped out the door. I’m really happy with these designs and I’m excited about their potential to be one of the weirdest keepsakes from one of the weirdest presidential elections ever. You can find all of the items listed in the blog post in the “New Items for 2016” section of my online store. Here’s the back end of the Trump train:
And for those of you who prefer your snark aimed at the left, here’s a new Wally design that puts Hillary Clinton in an orange prison suit AND the white house. It’s available in mugs, plates and bowls.
Wally also did a stint at Trump University, and here’s how that all worked out for him.
Oddly enough, we’re still shipping out some of these “I’m voting for Bernie” mugs. I guess some people just can’t shake off the dream.
And last but not least, here’s the runaway best seller of the year. “Trump Coffee” is the mug that sums up the year 2016. I look forward to making more of these over the next two months. But after that, I really hope that this whole “Trump mania” becomes a thing of the past.
9/13/16 Post Script: Here’s a 14″ platter that just came out of the kiln and is getting sent to the “Plate and Totem” show at Blue Line Arts in Sacramento, CA. The show starts on October 7th and runs until November 19th.
I’m having a blast making one of a kind art these days and I think it helps that these items are selling really well. This week’s firing’s magnum opus is “Potluck Hell”, a musing on the worst that could happen in a potluck salad situation. It sells for $140.00 in my online store, and I’ll let the pics of the pot tell the story of this item:
Also available for $150.00 in my online store this month is my “Where do ideas come from?” cookie jar. This was made for last month’s “Roots in Clay” show and it’s my take on possible explanations for the origin of creativity.
I got an interesting phone call a few months ago from a soon to be art school grad who was interested in doing a classic apprenticeship with me in my studio. It was flattering as well as daunting, and as we got to talking I realized that I’m really not the type to take on an apprentice. Braxton, the student, was finishing his BFA at the Port Orchard College of Arts and Crafts in Washington state and he wanted to move to Colorado. I thought about it for a week and offered him a reasonable deal renting studio space and staying at our house for the summer. In my mind it’s a better gig than an apprenticeship.
His first batch of pots came out of the kiln this week, and he’s got some really stunning glazes in his portfolio. I’m jealous! He’s taken a lot of glaze calculation classes, and in this area I’m the one who feels like the apprentice. These glazes are fired to cone 10 in an oxidation firing. Out of the thirty pots he had in the kiln, none of them had glazes run on the kiln shelves.
Braxton has a really great sense of humor, and we’ve been having some good conversations about what makes a hot selling coffee mug. I told him how we have been making “Holy Shit! That’s good coffee!” mugs like crazy since before he was born, and he came up with this “BEST POOP EVER” mug design. Funny guy!
He noticed that we make a lot of cat bowls, so he came up with this “EAT, SPRAY LOVE” design out of the blue. Damn! I wish I’d thought of that! If you like these pots, I urge you to go on over to his Etsy store and buy some. They are all in extremely limited quantity, and just about each one is unique. His initial prices are pretty reasonable, but he says that he’ll be raising his prices as the quality goes up. I highly recommend checking out his “Scrambled Baby DNA” bowl series. It’s nuts! Oh, and another thing he has figured out better than me is his “artist portrait” photo (see below).
The story behind this vase is a long one but I’ll try to make it short. There’s this potter in Denmark who is a total rock star on social media and I have a love/hate relationship with his work. His business is called “Tortus Copenhagen Ceramics” and he’s amazingly talented at creating sexy pics and videos of himself making pots. I’m really impressed with his marketing skills, but his pots put me to sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a very skilled potter. But the way he uses a black tank top and big muscles to sell his work is a total joke. So, I made a joke about it!
Why am I meditating inside my kiln? The Mountain Area Potters Gang is having a group show this month, and we were all required to do a “studio selfie” of ourselves at work. I put the task off until the day of the deadline and the job of cleaning my studio seemed really daunting. But then I realized that the one place in the studio that wasn’t all cluttered at the time was inside the shuttle kiln. A change of clothes and fifteen minutes later I had my shot. I had never sat inside my kiln before and it’s wonderfully quiet in there! Namaste.
This cookie jar is one of the pots that will be featured in the “Roots in Clay” show. It came together really quickly. It was the last day of decorating for the show and I knew that I wanted to do a collage of images dealing with how we get our ideas. That’s a muse on a pedestal and Lou Reed getting his songs from a “radio receiver” that he can turn on and come up with music like magic out of the ether. (I read a great interview about him one time and he claims to be able to tune into a magical dimension at any time and find songs there!) The jokes seemed to come out of nowhere as I was drawing this pot and I got small sense for what it must be to be Lou Reed. Creating this piece was a truly magical experience and I’m really proud to have it in the show!
For those of you who live in the Denver area, you are invited to come to the opening on Friday, May 6th from 4 – 7 p.m. at the Center for the Arts in Evergreen. And on Wednesday, May 11th at noon I’ll be giving a one hour talk about my work the next week. I’ll explain the process of how I make my pots and we’ll take a slide show trip down memory lane of my forty-five years of working in clay. There will even be door prizes! You can learn more about this interesting event at the Facebook event page.
And last but not least, here’s a cool art piece that’s for sale in the “one of a kind art pots” section of my online store. “Why does the pizza emoji have a shadow underneath it?” is an original thought I had one day and I hope that this image puts a seed in your brain about the mysterious pizza emoji. It can’t be balanced like that, so what’s going on? Is it falling from space and the image is the exact moment before it hits the ground?!!!
It’s been two months since my last post here at Wallypots.com, and I’ve got a ton of new items to show you! Fresh out of the kiln this week is my latest cat bowl: “Super Cat”. It measures five inches in diameter by two inches deep and sells for $26.00. You can find it in the “BOWLS” section of my online store.
Here’s a true runaway best selling design. The wording says, “TRUMP COFFEE with Vitriolin. WARNING! Side effects may include: explosive narcissism, orange skin, lying, misogyny, chronic bad hair, sleazy business deals, racism and more.” When the first sixteen of these came out of the kiln three weeks ago, they sold within days via Facebook and a few select wholesale accounts. We had 32 of them on backorder and the second firing contained over 60 of them. As of today, I have just twelve left so if you want one ASAP, get on over to the “MUGS” section of my online store!
The past two firings have yielded dozens of great new one of a kind art pieces. I’m really enjoying exploring new design ideas and I think these are some of the best pots I’ve made in a long time. These mugs and bowls were made with a selection of varied alphabet rubber stamps and I call them the “Ransom Note Series.” You can see more of these in the new “ART POTS” section of this site. Most of them are still for sale, and you can see what’s available in the “ONE OF A KIND ART POTS” section of my online store.
“What the heck are these?!!!”, you might ask. Well, this was a really fun project I did last week for my daughter, Robin who is a singer/songwriter in Seattle, WA. These days she goes by the stage name Lisa Prank and she’s got an album coming out in June. “Starting Again”, the first single off the album has gotten great reviews from Stereogum, Spin Magazine and a host of others. It’s pretty darn exciting! She’s got a tour coming up next week that takes her all the way across the United States traveling with her friends and rising stars, Tacocat. So being the doting dad I’ve always been, I decided to get in on the fun and make some high-quality band merchandise for her to sell alongside her t-shirts and stuff. These pins were made with good old cookie cutter technology and I’m really thrilled with how they turned out. I also did some mugs and bowls, which you can see here in this hastily shot pic I took on my arduous shipping day last Monday. It’s so fun to have a fellow artist in the family!
I’m sick of politics these days. That’s what inspired me to make this bowl. It started when I made a list of “conservatives who make me puke” and I realized that I should channel those thoughts into some kind of art piece. I’m really happy with how this bowl turned out and I will be doing a second one for the Mountain Area Potter’s Gang show that takes place this spring. This one is for sale for just $120.00. It measures ten inches in diameter and five inches deep. Also out of the kiln today are some new art mugs. These are one of a kind items that sell for just $36.00 each.
There are more of these crazy art pots on sale now in my online store. As soon as they sell, we’ll take them out of the store so hurry on over if you see something you can’t live without!
About a month ago, some of my potter friends on Facebook were posting a promotional video for a BBC reality TV show about ceramics. “The Great Pottery Throw Down” trailer urged viewers to “join us to see who will be Britain’s top potter.” The only problem is, the pots that are shown in this clip are somewhat less than brilliant and the contestants are obviously mid-level ceramists hardly able to join the ranks of such luminaries as Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie and Michael Cardew. When I saw this, I groaned, “Why can’t they have real potters on this show?” I mean, if you’re going to dub someone the nation’s top potter, you really should start with a roster of top notch contestants, right? I was anticipating a real train wreck of a TV show. And full disclosure: I’m not a fan of reality TV. The singers are generally lousy and the judges tend to be obnoxious.
But I was totally wrong in my initial opinion of this program. After watching the first episode, I became an instant fan. The fact that the contestants are aspiring potters is a real bonus. They are average people with regular jobs who have fallen in love with the process of making pots and it really shows in the personal profiles they intersperse throughout the show. To have top-notch clay jockeys competing here would make it look all too easy. These potters are struggling at times and it really shows how hard it is to learn the craft of working with clay. And the program’s creators do a great job explaining the technical aspects of pottery along the way, so it’s a wonderfully informative show. Hooray! They are bringing the message of ceramics to the masses! Two clay-covered thumbs up from this professional mud-wrestler.
The first episode’s challenge was to make a set of nesting bowls, and it inspired me to take the challenge myself. I decided to do seven bowls instead of five (two extra because I’m a pro). They had 2.5 hours to throw the pots, 1.25 hours to trim them and 2.5 hours to decorate them. I came in comfortably under time in the throwing and trimming but I took way longer in the decoration phase because that’s the way we do it here in Wallyworld. Here’s a step by step pictorial of the process of making the set:
Friday, November 6: Throwing the pots was pretty straightforward and I started with the largest bowl first because it’s easier to go down in size than it is to go up. The real “Ah ha!” moment came when I realized that if I made them all the same height they would rise up in a graceful stack, kind of like a pyramid. The largest bowl measured eleven inches in diameter thrown and I took them down exactly one inch in diameter as I made the set. I threw them a little on the heavy side as it’s a lot safer that way. One warped or trimmed through bowl would kill the whole project.
That three inch mark on the wooden rib was all I needed to get the heights consistent, and the dog dish shape is pretty easy for me to do. I’ve been throwing the same clay body (Laguna’s S porcelain) since the 1980s and I’ve been making numerous custom dog bowls for years now. It’s a pretty easy form to throw once you get the hang of it.
Saturday, November 7: Trimming was really straightforward and these bowls gave me no problems. I got the job done in under an hour and I realized that this exercise is a lot like a pro basketball player shooting free throws. If you’re in the zone, it’s easy.
Thursday, November 12th: They survived the bisque firing just fine. I posted this pic on the Clay Buddies Facebook page with the caption, “Look who’s doing the Great Pottery Throw Down nesting bowl challenge” and it got over 600 likes. I guess I’m not the only one who is geeked about the show!
Friday, November 13th: With the kiln firing the next day, I start the process of decorating around three in the afternoon. With seven bowls, I realized that a rainbow banding effect on the rims could look pretty good and the imagery on the inside of the bowls is to be a celebration of the weird characters that inhabit my pots. Wally is on the smallest bowl, followed by the meth addict, big foot’s baby mama, the bee keeper, the space monster, the grumpy republican and one of my all-time favorites, lobster girl. If you just happened to wander upon my website for the first time right now and you’ve never seen my work before, you are probably having a real WTF moment, huh?
I really struggled with the outside color scheme on these bowls. I knew I wanted to have the rainbow colors on the rims, but how to do the outside was a real challenge. Since the bowls raised up, I wanted a “filing cabinet” effect with the character’s names on the outsides of the bowls. I think it worked really well and the biggest thrill for me was unloading the kiln on Monday, November 16th to find zero flaws in the bowls. I nailed it! That violet stain on the rim of the smallest bowl is a really fussy color to get at cone 10 and it sometimes burns off if the firing is too hot or if you get some reduction flames in the firing. I have an 18 cu. ft. propane shuttle kiln, and it slips into reduction really quickly if I’m not careful with the adjustments on the burner valves. Making pottery can be really frustrating or really exciting, depending on how the kiln fires off. UPDATE: This bowl set sold on 11/30/15. Hooray!
Also out of the kiln this week is a new mug design and a new ornament. “Warning! Multi-level marketing systems are viruses from outer space!” is yet another in paranormal mug series and can be purchased in my online store. It was inspired by the movie, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and everyone who has tried to sell me something from through MLM schemes. I really hate that type of marketing!
And here’s our latest ornament. It’s wheel-thrown and hand-decorated and sells for just $13.50 in my online store. Profits from the sale of these ornaments go towards lobbying for nationalized healthcare for imaginary beings. Ho! Ho! Ho!
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?
HOW TO ENTER: Simply email us your drawings, ideas, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org
DEADLINE: Friday, November 20th! We’ll announce the winners here and in an email on Wednesday, November 25th.
Want to get some inspiration for this project? Take a look at my line of ornaments (on sale for just $13.50) in my online store.
With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s a good time for me to update my “Find A Gallery” page and highlight some of the amazing stores that currently have a good supply of my pots. There are over thirty galleries nationwide that feature my work. If you are the kind of shopper who likes to touch and feel things before you buy them, take a look at the map on this website to see if one of my accounts is near where you live. Here are some of the galleries that should have a good selection of my work this season:
18 Hands Gallery is Houston’s premier fine craft gallery with an emphasis on clay. They featured my work this year at the NCECA conference in Providence, RI.
Artcraft is located in the historic Savage Mill section of Savage, MD and features the work of over 500 artists and craftspeople. We just sent them an excellent selection of over seventy pieces.
Arts A Poppin in Indianapolis, IN has a goofy name but their buyers have a great eye for fine craft. Look for a bunch of my latest Christmas ornaments to arrive on their shelves next week.
C2C Gallery in Grand Haven, MI is the creation of potter, Cyndi Casemier. Her staff is so good at keeping me updated on sales and I’m a perfectionist at keeping their shelves stocked with my work.
Crow Valley Pottery (pictured above) is a magical place on idyllic Orcas Island, WA. They do an amazing job of displaying art throughout the grounds of their studio/gallery. My wife and I were lucky enough to visit them this summer and it was such a treat to finally see this place that has been exhibiting my line for almost a decade.
Deblois Gallery in Middletown, RI is a brand new account that will be featuring my work in its annual holiday show that runs from November 7th to December 24th.
Eureka Crafts in Syracuse, NY will be getting a big supply of Wallyware the week before Thanksgiving so give them a visit later this month.
The Evergreen Gallery in Evergreen, CO is just ten miles from my house and I’ve been doing business with them since we moved here 23 years ago. They carry an impressive display of my work and it’s a fantastic place to go gift shopping after a walk around Evergreen Lake.
The Keith Fleming Gallery rocks Port Clinton, OH with crazy crafts and stylish furnishings. Over the years, we’ve done some great custom designs with giant walleyes devouring tourists near the local nuclear power plant by the lake.
Margo’s Pottery and Fine Crafts in Buffalo, WY is a clay-oriented shop that features some name ceramics. Owner Margo Brown has a great eye for clay because she’s a potter herself.
Monkitree in Gardiner, ME is great at posting stuff on Facebook and some day I want to go visit this quirky place. They place a lot of orders throughout the year, so if you live in that neck of the woods, check ’em out!
Mud and Metal in Baltimore, MD has been carrying my work since practically forever and they are quite the stylish gallery. Right now they are having a show called, “Tarot and Tattoo”. How cool!
New Morning Gallery in Asheville, NC is one of the finest fine craft galleries in the country. I’ve had friends visit this place and come home raving about amazing their collection of clay is. This is another “must see gallery” for people who love fine craft.
Phoenix Gallery has two locations: one in Lawrence, KS and the other in Kansas City, MO. I just started doing business with them this summer and they are quickly turning into one of my favorite accounts. They are selling my work quite well and they are super-organized with their inventory system. Viva The Midwest!
Poppy in Columbia, MO has a lot of stylish stuff AND they carry my work, too! They have been carrying my pots since 2011.
Random Acts of Art in Naples, FL carries art that captures the fun and breezy feel of Florida. We’ll be shipping them a very large order later this month, so drop by if you are in the neighborhood.
Show of Hands in Cherry Creek, CO carries my standard line of pots plus a lot of the art mugs that you’ve seen in posts on this site. Shopping there is a great experience and they feature some of Colorado’s best fine crafts and art.
SOTA Gallery in Philadelphia, PA is one of the the best fine craft galleries in Philly. They will be getting a nice selection of my work later this month.
Timothy’s Gallery in Naples, FL has some great whimsical crafts. A quick perusal of their website as I was writing this article made my jaw drop. Nice stuff!!!
Wild Side Gallery in Key West, FL has the biggest and best selection of my work on the entire planet! Once a year they drive out to Colorado and we give them a huge selection of pots. They are consistently one of my top selling accounts and do a wonderful job representing my artwork.