Two years ago I was slated to give my talk on “Copyright 101 for Ceramic Decal Printers” at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference in Richmond, VA but Covid-19 put the brakes on everything. So I resubmitted my paper and got it accepted to this year’s conference in Sacramento, CA. NCECA is like Disneyland for clay people. There are lectures, demos, gallery shows and manufacturers pitching their wares. It will be so fun to be part of the show this time.
Rosetta Technologies will be giving a CerPrint true black (or blue) decal printer to one lucky member of the audience at my talk! I’m really interested to see if this draws a big crowd. I think it will. I’m also giving away a farting unicorn mug, and a Shitcoin with a bag of assorted decals. Must be present to win.
I had a really nice talk with Paul Blais on The Potters Cast podcast a couple of weeks ago. We revisited my copyright dispute with Tesla Motors and discussed some of the technical aspects of putting decals on pots. I even got to pitch my argument that putting a city on Mars is a really really bad idea. You can hear our whole conversation here.
And last but not least, I’ll be taking over eighty brand new Shitcoins to NCECA next week, so if you read this while you are at the conference, go to my lecture and hit me up for some ceramo-currency. I made a special commemorative decal for the backs of the coins. And if you’re not going to the conference, you can find some really good ones in my online store.
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For the past eight months I’ve been noodling around with the idea of making ceramic money. There’s so much media buzz these days about cryptocurrency, bitcoins, and NFTs that it boggles the mind. It’s a bold new world of sci-fi finance that borders on surreal. I pretty much hate it because it’s an artificial stock market, not unlike Beanie Baby collectors in the 1990s or Dutch Tulip Bulb Market Bubble of the 1660s. So I decided to make my currency the exact opposite of crypto. My money is tangible and you can put it in your pocket. And the name “Shitcoin” is priceless, right?
The first incarnation of the Shitcoin was the simple green Shitcoin 1.0 that I released in my online store last November. They sold quite well at $5 each, and a week after the initial offering I raised the price to $6. “Wow! a 20% return on your investment in just one week.” I joked. As I made more of these coins, I became intrigued with all of the variables in color, texture and imagery that were available with the various stamps, glazes and decals in my studio. I dropped the idea of a simple standard coin and decided to make them all one of a kind works of art. Another important feature of my “ceramo-currency” is that they can help you connect with your magical self. Throughout my life, I’ve had numerous mysterious occurrences that would fit the definition of “manifestation magic” so I’m sending these coins out to the world as a tool for encouraging that phenomenon. The back of the coin stakes my claim.
In researching the topic of money last summer, I came across the documentary, “Project 33: An Alternative is Possible!” It’s a wonderful story about Eugene glassmaker Marcel Braun and his idealistic crusade of making his own glass coins that he calls “Art Units.” I can’t recommend this film enough as it takes you to a fascinating world of cutting edge glassmaking and utopian dreams. While Marcel sees his handmade currency as a way of taking down the system, I view mine as something to put in your pocket and make a wish, set a goal or pursue a dream. The magical power is within you if you believe that it’s there. I’ve gone into full-scale production on Shitcoins this month and I’ll have a bunch available at the NCECA conference in Sacramento the week of March 12th. More on this in a blog post next week. Until then, you can see my current supply of Shitcoins in my online store.
Wally is back! It took a worldwide pandemic to get him to show his face, and this design is one of my top selling items right now. I love the fact that it was inspired by my wife’s recent venture into making sourdough bread. It’s really cliche but homemade sourdough bread is so good. I’m getting a kiln out next week so we’ll have a healthy supply of these in mugs, plates and bowls. You can order them now in my online store.
These “bug-eyed mugs” got a wonderful response when I debuted them last month. All seven sold within 24 hours so I’m making another batch this week. They are incredibly time-consuming to produce, but I think they are some of the best cartoon pots I’ve ever made. I’ll have the next wave of them up for sale sometime between September 17 – 24 and I’ll update this blog when I have a firm date for their launch. I received a 1,300 “likes” on Instagram, unusually large for me, when I posted a pic of the bottom of this mug. I have no idea why the algorithm gods liked it so much, but it was a nice surprise!
My decal pots are starting to sell quite well, and I love the process of doing a small firings of 30 – 40 pieces after the glaze firing comes out with fresh pieces to decorate with decals. The social distancing pots are still the top-selling items in this line, with the Star Trek mug being the favorite. I’ve got a good supply of them in stock now. My most recent firing debuted a series that was inspired by a podcast about addiction and recovery called “Back From Broken” by local CPR journalist Vic Vela. I chose four people with inspiring recovery stories and put their image on mugs. Chrissie Hynde, Anthony Bourdain, Pete Townshend and Brie Davies were my first four “heroes of sobriety”, and I’ll probably add more as the series progresses. It was a really fun project to do, and I’m very happy with the results. You can purchase them here.
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It’s a scary world out there, but I’m managing to find a lot of meaning in my work these days. My decal line never really took off until the past month or so when I locked in on some design work that relates to the pandemic. I’m putting the year 2020 on just about everything, because I see these pots as little documents of our era. I’m finally figuring out how to glaze the ware so the decals pop over the glazes. The work is selling really well, and I’ve got a nice rhythm of decorating on Monday and Tuesday, firing on Wednesday, taking pics on Thursday, and selling and shipping on Friday. The Star Trek design is by far the most popular, and we usually sell out of them in less than a day. I’m really excited about the next glaze firing because I’m locking in on some really successful glaze patterns and these pots look so good with out new photo studio. To see my most recent decal pots currently for sale, go to the “May 2020 Decal Firing” section of my store. Stay safe!
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I was driving through Denver today to deliver groceries to my mom and I realized that somewhere in a parallel universe I’m at NCECA in Richmond having a great time. (See my previous post for more info on this) This is such an odd reality we are living in, isn’t it? Complaining aside, I’m trying to make the most of things and last week I came up with a really successful decal design for today’s times. Seen above is my pick of the litter. These social distancing mugs sold really well in my online store yesterday, and I’ll be doing another batch of them next week. Look for a bunch more coming to my online store on Friday, April 3rd. I’m so lucky to have my family and my pots to keep me sane right now.
Another fun little project to keep me from running around the house with a hatchet in my hands is my new “Bling it up” series. I’ve got some great pots that never sold sitting around the studio, so I’m breaking out the gold luster and decals to gussy them up. The story behind this “Greed” mug is pretty cool. Robin’s boyfriend from her teenage years was a struggling cartoonist named Noah Van Sciver. He had yet to publish his first book but he was wonderfully dedicated to his craft. When the economy went to hell in 2009 he came over to the studio and we made some pots together. Some sold and some didn’t and here we are eleven years later and the economy is going to hell again. But get this: Noah is now a freaking rock star in the cartooning world! He’s had dozens of books published! One of them (“Disquiet” a collection of early works) has a forward written by Robin Edwards! Oh, and Noah won the prestigious Ignatz Award! So, yeah, that little mug up there is a real deal and you should buy it (here) so I can embellish more of his old pots because they look really good in gold. Noah gets half the amount of the sale, by the way. Support the arts!
And here’s another little lost soul turned into a gorgeous work of art through the magic of gold luster and gold decals. I love the way the cheeks sparkle! You can have it now if you just jump on over to my store!
The coronavirus pandemic is throwing a monkey wrench into lives all over the world and mine is no exception. I was slated to give a lecture at the NCECA 2020 Ceramics Convention in Richmond, VA next week, but the conference was wisely cancelled. Hopefully, I’ll be able to present my lecture next year in Cincinnati, OH. I see myself as fortunate to have a backup plan for this milestone in my career. For those of you who aren’t part of the clay world, NCECA is like Disneyland for ceramic artists. It features lectures, demos, equipment and product booths, as well as a huge number of gallery shows. The Gandee Gallery was going to carry my work in the convention hall and I was excited to be selling my mugs there. They just put up a lovely online show and have an amazing selection of work for sale. I encourage you all to visit it here.
The title of my NCECA 2020 lecture is “Copyright 101 for Ceramic Decal Printers”. It’s a two-parter with the first half being my epic copyright battle with Tesla Motors and the second half being dos and don’ts for reproducing other people’s images on your ceramics. I’ll post a few pics from my slideshow below, and hopefully I’ll be presenting it a year from now.
Oh, and if you happen to want a nice little souvenir of my Tesla unicorn story, go to my online store where you can buy one of the famous electric car mugs. I’ve got over fifty of them in stock right now as I was planning on selling them at NCECA. I really appreciate the business!
Tom Edwards works out of his home-studio in Evergreen, CO. He’s been a full-time studio potter since receiving a BA in Art History from UC Santa Barbara in 1978. He considers it a miracle that he is known for his drawing.
Check it out! We coaxed Wally out of retirement to make a statement about Trump rallies. We’re still producing a lot of the classic Wally pots these days, but for some reason I’ve been at a loss to come up with many new Wally designs the past couple of years. Maybe this year will bring a renaissance for my imaginary dog-pal. We’ll see! This new design is available in mugs, plates and bowls in my online store.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I made a few new love-themed mugs. Jump on over to the funny mugs section of my online store for titles like “HOT MESS”, “Find a woman who looks at you the way she looks at her cell phone” and the companion piece seen here.
I love this time of year because my work is in high demand. My customers are a really fun group of people and it was so great to have them over this weekend for the kick-off day of my month-long studio sale. For the next four weeks, I’ll have my studio stock room open to the public for shopping. It’s a great little gallery setting with a wonderful selection of pots available right now. For those of you not in Colorado, you may also purchase the items in my online store. Featured above is a porcelain cookie jar that you can find in the Unique Art Pots section of my store. Here’s an overview of all the pieces I have for sale right now.
Every year I come up with a Christmas ornament that sums up the year and 2019’s design is an instant classic. We made 25 of these for the first run and they are all sold and out the door. But fear not! I’ve got another firing coming out on December 7th, so you can order as many as you like and we will ship them out on Monday, December 9th. Jump on over to the “Christmas Ornaments” section of my store to see all the designs we have available.
And speaking of political pots, I am now doing all of my wonderfully infamous anti-Trump designs again and they are selling really really well. Seen here is our most popular design, “Am I the only person who thinks about killing Donald Trump?!!” To see all the anti-Trump pots in a grouping, check out the “Dump Trump” section of my online store.
I’m thinning out the herd of my decal pots, so there are some really great deals on the initial decal pots I’ve made. These are wonderfully original and inventive one of a kind pieces and they are a real deal in the $10 – $25 range. Get them before they are gone in the “Discount Decal Pots” section of my online store.
Another really hot item right now are the astrology mugs. Each one is lavishly decorated and captures the spirit of the individual astrological sign. Please order these soon as we are most likely going to run out of them before Christmas! You can find them here.
I’ve got so many other great items available in my online store: cat bowls, Wallyware, funny mugs, farting unicorn pots, deluxe decal pots, and more. If you are looking for unique gift items, take some time to peruse my store and explore my work. To check the availability of a specific design, feel free to send your inquiries via email or phone during regular business hours, MST. If we have it in stock, we will ship within 24 hours of receiving the order. Happy holidays!
My journey into the world of ceramic decals continues! This week’s decal firing yielded more strange fruits of the Melania Trump variety. What inspires me to make this stuff? I don’t know, really. I just get a fun idea and pursue it, I guess. We will all look back on this stage of my artistic development and laugh about it one day, I hope. I’m not in a talkative mood right now so I’ll just let the pots speak for themselves. These are all available in my online store, of course.
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Last year’s resolution to get a settlement from Tesla Motors was a real challenge with a lot of highs and lows along the way. So many times I thought that I was wasting my time and money on a stupid pipe dream. In the end it was a magical success, and I’m so glad I went all in on that wild dream project. Strangely enough, this year’s resolution to develop a new line of work using the decal printer is a bit similar. The highs: it’s so much fun experimenting with a new design process and I’m so happy when I create something unique and amazing. I love putting photographic images on pots and I really want this work to succeed. The lows: technical problems (now solved), creative struggles (ongoing), and slow production and sales (last year is a tough act to follow). The healthiest way for me to look at this is to see it as a sabbatical from the business of making pottery.
My most recent firing bore some really good fruit for potential sales. President Trump’s “go back from where you came from” tirade inspired my idea to co-opt the First Lady’s “BE BEST” campaign to fight online bullying. I’m not the first to point out the irony of this but I’m probably the first to put it on mugs with pictures of her in a bikini holding a gun.
This one sold right off, and there will be more out of the kiln in about a month. Fun Fact: Melania designed that logo herself, and Christian, my art & tech wizard created a font (“We Best”) and we can now type on the computer with Melania’s handwriting. Should I blow $55 on a copyright for this font? I might just do that in case that Slovenian witch decides to sic her army or lawyers on me. To see and purchase the very first rough draft pots from this series, check out the “Be Best” section of my online store.
My other big win for this month is the news that my lecture proposal for the NCECA 2020 conference was accepted. The topic is “Copyright 101 for Ceramic Decal Printers”, and I’ve posted my 300 word proposal below. I’m so thrilled! This pretty much handcuffs me to making decal pots now, doesn’t it? Gosh, I had such a great time at NCECA 2019 this year. By odd coincidence, while I was there I was interviewed by Paul Blais of “The Potter’s Cast” podcast, and you can listen to it here. It’s such a sweet little interview because, honest to god, I sound like a ten year old talking about his trip to Disneyland. If you are a potter or a good friend of mine, you really must hear this one to get a big laugh. Oh, and and if you haven’t heard it, be sure and catch my “The potter who took on Tesla and won” interview as it’s a lovely overview of my career and my epic copyright battle with Elon Musk.
“Take a few of these, the sweeter memories” – Todd Rundgren
Copyright 101 for Ceramic Decal Printers
My interest in copyright law developed in 2017 when Tesla Motors copied my “farting unicorn” graphic and downloaded it into the operating systems of its automobiles. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, had tweeted an image of my coffee mug with this design before it was placed in the cars, making it a textbook case of copyright infringement. With the help of a lawyer and a daughter who debated the copyright issue with Mr. Musk via Twitter, we received significant media attention in June 2018. A month later, Tesla Motors paid out a reasonable settlement. Now I’m on the other side of the issue as I worry about stealing other people’s art.
Anyone who uses a ceramic decal printer should be aware of the various degrees of copyright infringement. The problem is that it’s just too easy to grab images from the internet and place them in your work. While the ceramics community is generally very open with its intellectual property (glaze recipes, etc.), the worlds of photography and graphic art are not.
The story of Shepard Fairey’s iconic “Hope” image of Barack Obama epitomizes this issue. In 2010, a federal court determined that the AP photographer who took the original photograph for this poster had his copyright infringed upon by Mr. Fairey. What can we in ceramics learn from this?
This talk will give an overview of copyright law and fair use from a potter’s perspective as it pertains to ceramic decals. I will cover the basic dos and don’ts of using other people’s images in your work. There are many variables and a lot of gray area as to what you can and cannot do depending on how you use the images and the nature of your artwork. Members of the audience will be encouraged to share their experiences.
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