The clock is ticking. Can you hear it? It’s telling everybody out there that there are just five days left for you to place your custom orders for the holiday season. On Friday we will load up the last kiln of the year, so if you have any intentions of placing a way-cool custom order or two, you had better do it soon. Over the past couple of years I’ve been actively encouraging my customers to submit these orders because I know how much fun it is to give someone dear something that was specially made for them. And due to the “anything goes” nature of my artwork, we have gotten a lot of strange requests over the years. One of my all-time favorites is a mug we did for a guy who was in charge of getting all the mold out of his lab/workplace after Hurricane Katrina:
Good ideas yield good custom orders. Another mug that was particularly fun to do was one we did for a woman named Sharon. I really like the affection the friend who commissioned the mug must have for her:
And last year we got an order that was a holiday gift for one of my all-time favorite musicians in the whole universe: Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead!! Take a look:
Do you have someone on your gift list who you would like to give something like this? If so, get over to the “Custom Orders” section of this website and read through the tips on how to place an order. It’s really pretty simple and it can yield some great gifts if you go for it. Don’t forget, anything ordered by Friday, 12/02 can be shipped out on Tuesday, 12/06.
Posted 1 year, 5 months ago at 6:06 am. Add a comment
Good news! We just had our biggest shipping week of the year so far and there are five new venues to add to the growing empire of fine craft galleries that carry my work. It’s always great to get new accounts and I’m excited about the big orders we just shipped out to these stores. Here’s a roundup of Wally’s new digs:
Blue Heron Gallery and Gifts – Located downtown in Ashland, Oregon, Blue Heron features an eclectic mix of styles and media from more than seventy artists including an impressive collection of art glass. Ashland is the home of the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, so Wally’s possibilities with Shakespeare jokes are endless: “A coffee mug! A coffee mug! My kingdom for a coffee mug.” Me thinks thou dost pun too much….
Art for the Soul – This is a pair of stores located in Laguna Beach, CA and Balboa Island, CA. The Laguna Beach venue has been carrying my work for years, and now the Balboa Island gallery will have a display of over forty pieces on their shelves. Their selection of fine craft emphasizes bright colors and fun. Perfect!
Crow Valley Pottery – Established in 1959, this working pottery studio/gallery is in the breathtakingly beautiful locale of Orcas Island in the state of Washington. This is truly one of the prettiest places on earth and Wally gets to go there. I’m jealous.
Arts A Poppin – Wally makes his Indiana debut in this unique gift shop that is located in the heart of the Art & Theatre district of Indianapolis. A.A.P. features a great selection of jewelry and clothing with a nice whimsical vibe. And just one week from today, their shelves will have over fifty of my pots that are sure to take that whimsical vibe up a notch!
Mutt and Joe – The owners of this establishment describe it as “a cozy neighborhood dog wash and coffee bar dedicated to caring for you and your dog in an enjoyable environment”. Dogs and coffee? Man! This place and my pots are a marriage made in heaven! I urge anyone out there in the state of Maryland to drop by and see the coffee bar that cleans your dog. They now have an impressive display of my mugs, and we even did a custom design for them. Check it out:
Posted 1 year, 7 months ago at 9:37 am. Add a comment
Here’s a timely new Wally adventure! With the economy and the debt ceiling front and center in the news today, it’s only natural that Wally should be riffing on this theme. I love the fact that now, when someone asks me what I do for a living, I can say, “I recreate The Sistine Chapel frescoes on pottery.” This minor masterpiece is available in mugs, plates and bowls at my online store. But wait! There’s more! This week’s firing also yielded a bizarre mug for the Mitt Romney camp. I just found out about the whole “magic Mormon underwear” phenomenon and I couldn’t help but make a commemorative coffee mug about cosmic undies. I’m thinking that I could do a mug design for each of the presidential candidates in next year’s primary elections. Have you seen the pic of Michelle Bachman on the cover of this week’s Newsweek Magazine? Inspiring!!!
On the other end of the pottery spectrum, I pulled some really lovely red pots out of the kiln this morning. The glaze surfaces are amazing! They are just a little darker and “smokier” than usual, and the way the glaze pools in the cracks is truly dazzling. Here are two unique red serving bowls that are for sale for $55.00 each in the Ohata Kaki Red section of my online store. The one with the altered rim was a bowl that flopped while I was throwing it on the wheel. I liked the odd undulations in the clay so I kept it and trimmed it. Then it sat on the shelf unglazed for years, and the ohata red glaze was the perfect way to finish it. If you like this ten inch diameter bowl, you should snap it up in my online store, because I won’t be making another one like it!
Posted 1 year, 9 months ago at 4:52 pm. Add a comment
I’ve had a shop on Etsy for over two years now, and I have mixed feelings about this DIY retail site for craftspeople. . While it’s great that there is a place for artists to sell their wares online with ease and low overhead, the craft snob inside of me is appalled at some of the riff raff that inhabit this site. Etsy has been a good place for new customers to discover my work, but it’s been hard for me to get much visibility there . I don’t like the way Etsy is so demanding of its artists. To be an effective seller, you need to join teams, registries, and circles. To be featured up front on the site, you need to buy ads, make connections and write “how to” blogs for the Etsy machine. My work is labor intensive enough as it is, so spending more time at these pursuits is low on my list of priorities. But I do scan the daily Etsy emails and I’ve noticed a growing trend on this site: vintage items. The word “vintage” is a euphemism for “old things the seller didn’t make”. That’s right, a significant piece of the Etsy pie is the kind of stuff you find in a thrift stores. One of the weirdest items I found is part craft, part junk: a set of thrift store bowls with the hairdos of The Rolling Stones painted on them. I’m not kidding! Take a look:
Oh yeah…. the kids will fight every morning over who gets to eat their Lucky Charms out of the bowl with Keith Richards’ mop. I must credit these rock and roll hairdo bowls for inspiring my newest Wally design, “Wally learns that on Etsy, ‘hand-drawn on ironic vintage tableware’ means a sharpie drawing on an old paper plate”. This plate is only available at my Etsy store. I was hoping that news of this plate would spread like wildfire through the Etsy community and sales would be brisk, but so far all I’ve gotten is a couple of appreciative emails from fans. Maybe I should buy an ad on Etsy to promote it. Sigh.
So here I am trashing a fellow craftsperson’s rock and roll pots, and in the same breath I’ll crow about my latest artwork: the Iggy Pop/David Bowie mug series! I only managed to get eight of them decorated in the last firing cycle, but I really like the way they turned out. The method for these mugs was to take a lyric from one of Iggy’s or David’s songs, and use these words as a take-off point for the design. It’s terribly fun to paint pots like this just for the heck of it, but they are really time consuming to produce. I should have more of them made for my next firing on August 7th. These ones aren’t for sale as of yet, and I’ll probably put them all in my online store next month when the series is completed. Take a look!
Posted 1 year, 10 months ago at 5:54 pm. Add a comment
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 at 6:13 pm. Add a comment
For those of you out there who are shopping for a gift for an artist, let me offer some suggestions. I just scanned the shelves of our factory showroom and we have some darn good artist gifts in stock and ready to ship right now! Just blast on over to our online store, place an order and these lovely items will be on put a UPS truck as soon as is humanly possible. For starters, the cup and saucer above and below is a great little item for the creative hot beverage drinker. We have just two of them in stock and they can be found in the “deluxe funny mugs” section for just $32.00.
Next up, a time honored classic! “Wally wanders into Jackson Pollock’s studio” has been a staple in my line for over twenty years and it’s still a beloved favorite. Plates are $33.00, mugs are $28.00 and bowls are $28.00. And yes, we have them all in stock!
And how about a Wally pin to go with that Pollock plate? They are only $12.50! Check out the splatter pin and the blue dot pin:
Last but not least, a design that is near and dear to my heart because it pretty much sums up why I’m compelled to make this stuff. Do you have a potter on your gift list?
Posted 2 years, 5 months ago at 5:26 pm. Add a comment
“Fran had her skin dyed green to accentuate her love of Mother Earth and to show everyone that she was truly “going green”
I came up with this new mug design idea last week on Earth Day. I’ve always felt that contemporary environmentalism is more about looking and feeling green than actually being green. Because to actually be green, you can’t take cool trips to Hawaii or live in a nice big house in the mountains like we do here in Evergreen. Yes, I suppose I am a bit of a curmudgeon and deserve to be run over by a Prius. I should also disclose that this mug is an homage to my old friend and hero, Fred Babb. He’s been a longtime influence on my work and this one looks like something out of his 1995 “Friends and Relatives” calendar. Thanks for all the cosmic inspiration over the years, Fred!
And here’s one more item in a long series of pots with flammable imagery. What’s up with that? Why am I so compelled to make all these vessels with stuff burning on them? No, I wasn’t down by the old tire warehouse last week when it went up in flames…. really…. that wasn’t me…. I was home firing my kiln and it’s my airtight alibi.
If you want to buy some of these hot and cool new items, just go to the online store.
Posted 3 years ago at 8:44 pm. 1 comment
One of the things I like about forcing myself to write this blog every week is the fact that I’m getting some interesting and esoteric stories about my work loaded on to the the web where they will hopefully be archived forever. This will be a real bonus for the folk art historians of the future who decide to research my odd little niche in the crafts universe. Yes, I realize this sounds a bit egotistical, but when you see the photo at the end of this post, you will see why I’m feeling so full of myself today. The topic for this week is “Fan offerings and the fans that offer them: a trip down memory lane with the stuff people have sent me over the years”. Enjoy!
The Tim T-shirt: This came to me from a fan who wanted to make a commemorative shirt for her friend Tim who was going on a trip to Japan. It was always fun for me to wear because people thought it was a typo that it said “Tim” instead of “Tom”.
The Fred Babb original plate: Back in the summer of 1989, we had so many orders that there was a six week waiting list for galleries to receive their pots. Oh, those were the days! One of my best accounts was “What iz Art?” in Cambria, CA. It was owned by Julia and Fred Babb. Fred is an amazing artist and he is one of my true heroes and mentors in the world of crazy, fun and magical self-expression. When I told Fred his order was going to go to the back of the line just like everyone else, he sent me this plate as a bribe. It worked like a charm and I squeezed his pots in the next firing.
The silver Wally pin: A jeweler named Jewel sent me this a few years ago, and I love the way Wally looks in shiny metal. I used to do ceramic Wally pins back in the 1980s, and one of them was worn by Demi Moore in the film, “The Seventh Sign”. Look for it in the chase scene where she is running through a church wearing a beige overcoat. Wally is right there on her collar!
The Wally Tattoo: This pic just came to me last week from a superfan via email…. really! I’m overwhelmingly flattered by it and I’m still kind of in a daze. It isn’t finished yet, as the Wallys need to be colored in and the banner will have a phrase. The words have yet to be decided…. any ideas out there?
P.S. I just got a nice mention today on missmalaprop.com. Check it out!
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 7:01 am. Add a comment
I can’t even estimate how many various adventures my imaginary dog Wally has had over the past twenty-five years. The total number is probably close to a thousand, especially if you count all the various custom orders I’ve produced. Wally has been commissioned to motorcycle jump over wedding parties and “wrestle” with Hillary Clinton, just to name a few. Today I’m going to take another trip down memory lane and present you with my top ten favorite Wally cartoons of all time.
WARNING: SOME OF THESE JOKES CONTAIN DRUG REFERENCES AND SEXUAL SITUATIONS THAT MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER AUDIENCES. PARENTAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED…. REALLY!!!!
#10: “Wally finds a way to secure increased funding for NASA”. I really like the simplicity of this one, and it was a good simple political joke for the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion in 2003.
#9: Wally comes home to find his house completely redecorated and Martha Stewart waiting in a bathtub filled with whipped cream”. When I first came up with this idea, I thought it was too racy to sell in stores. Wrong!
#8: “Jerry Garcia wills Wally the marketing rights to his obscure but memorable exercise video”. I did a number of Grateful Dead jokes with Wally in the 80s and 90s, so when Jerry died I was compelled to commemorate his passing. This cartoon was printed in Bill Husted’s column in The Denver Post in 1995.
#7: “Wally is diagnosed with a clinical case of caffeine dependency, thus enabling him to park in the handicapped spaces at Starbucks”. I suppose the fact that this one is our #1 top selling Wally mug helps, but it’s still a really solid joke. I’ve drawn it on pots well over a thousand times!
#6: “A ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ seminar inspires Wally to beat up a masochist”. This joke was inspired by the witticism: “A masochist is someone who is kind to a sadist”.
#5: “Wally makes the mistake of using George W. Bush for his lifeline on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionare”. We made a ton of these five years ago, and I still really like the hook in this joke.
#4: “As luck would have it, Wally’s trip to Disneyland falls on the same day as The Apocalypse”. I love the premise of this one: the happiest place on Earth on the last day on Earth.
#3: “Wally guest stars in a ‘Love Is’ cartoon”. I never could convince my wholesale accounts to carry this one, but I still think it’s about as funny as it gets. Perverted, but funny!
#2: “Wally buys the ‘Lost in Space’ robot on eBay only to have it nag him about how much time he spends shopping online”. If I could think of one joke as simple and funny as this every day, I could do a syndicated cartoon in the newspapers.
#1: “Wally experiences a blind date so bad, it causes severe psychological damages”. I had a really great guy who worked for me for about a year, and his name was Kyle. One day he told me about a friend of his who took LSD and watched the movie ‘Faces of Death’. Yikes! I just took that story one step further here, and I think it’s wonderfully dark and weird.
Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 9:01 pm. Add a comment
Permit me to indulge myself for just a bit here and let us imagine that it’s one hundred years in the future and Wallyware pottery has become a collectable item. For the record, I never tell fans of my work to buy it as an investment, so we are just pretending here. But a century from now these pots would certainly make an entertaining feature on a futuristic version of “Antiques Roadshow”. And it’s not unrealistic to think that the tens of thousands of pots I’ve created in my lifetime could be enough volume to warrant a small collectables market in the next century. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, the topical humor I’m doing now is going to seem like it’s from another planet to people in the distant future. So let’s dig deep into the Wallyware catalog and unearth some esoteric and already ancient Wally adventures that will be the most collectable of the bunch, due to their extremely limited availability and/or their significance to history:
1) “NAPPY! HE AM GOOD BOY!!!” (1983) True fact: There is only one of these, and it is the very first image of Wally that I ever drew. It was a gift to my friend Liz, to commemorate an experience she had as a medical intern. Don’t be surprised if someday there are imitations of this plate now that its picture is posted on the web.
2) “The First Wally Adventures” (mid-1980s) These are the very early Wally pots that look a lot like they are drawn by a child. The artwork is crude, and the jokes are incredibly simple: “Wally sees God”, “Wally meets visitors from outer space”, “Wally eats visitors from outer space”, etc.
3) “Happy Wedding, Julia and Keifer. Love, Wally” (1991) Inspired by the big celebrity news of the day, this joke was drawn on only a couple dozen plates. (Note the painted-on sale price sticker!) A few years after I created it, one of the galleries that shows my work sold it to a friend of Julia Roberts who allegedly gave it to the academy award winning actress. How fun!
4) “While negotiating a labor contract with Zigfried and Roy, Wally encourages his clients to get tough with management” (1990s) I created this joke for a fine craft store in the MGM Grand at Las Vegas and it sold pretty well for them. It was kind of creepy in 2003 when the news broke about Roy Horn getting attacked by his tigers.
5) “Wally and Up with People sing their way into the Guinness Book of records in a ditch in Waco, Texas” (1993) I made less than a dozen of these just one week before the Branch Davidian compound was burned to the ground by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. We shipped the first ones out to Twist Gallery in Oregon, and they arrived the exact same day as the tragedy. The gallery owner called us and said, “We need to send these back.”
6) The “Wally and OJ” series: 1995 was a real boom time for us with the OJ trial. The Geraldo Rivera joke was the first, and Geraldo himself held up a mug with this cartoon on his TV show. We did a series of spin-off adventures about the trial, and the high point of it all was sending a batch of plates off to the prosecution lawyers for a special order from the DA of Los Angeles, Gil Garcetti. I even got to talk to Gil on the phone one day. It was so weird!
7) The Oregon Bach Festival series (1990s): For a string of about five or six years, my account in Eugene, New Twist, would order commemorative Wally designs for the Oregon Bach Festival. They were a big hit with the musicians at the festival, and the subjects of the jokes were wonderfully esoteric.
The Provincetown gay theme series: In 2004 I received a really huge order for ten different gay themed Wally adventures for my account in Provincetown, MA. That summer we produced a couple hundred pots with Wally as a drag queen, Wally as a giant ape carrying female impersonator Ray Fay to the top of a skyscraper, Wally cuddling with “The Bears” etc. It was quite the left-wing soapbox tour de force!
9) “The Unsinkable Molly Brown Spittoon” (2008) Every year I donate something to Rocky Mountain PBS station and this year I got inspired and created an epic tale to grace a spittoon. It sold for $250.00… cheap! It’s definitely a one of a kind.10) “Wally creates the ultimate political reality TV show: ‘The Perils of Palin” and “Wally defends Sarah Palin’s stand on hunting wolves with helicopters with some folksy backwoods wisdom” (2008) These two adventures celebrate the overwhelming national spotlight on that spunky right-wing Alaskan governor that dropped into our laps a few months ago. I’m hoping that she will go away now, but only time will tell.
If you happen to have any old Wally ceramics out there that might be worthy of this list, feel free to post the titles below. The really odd thing about doing this line of pottery for as long as I have is the fact that there are pots out there that I don’t even remember making. I have shoe boxes full of photos and memorabilia, but I don’t have records of everything I’ve done. It’s going to be an interesting task for folk art historians of the future to nail down all those esoteric designs out there!
Posted 4 years, 6 months ago at 10:02 am. 1 comment