We have a kiln room!

After long wait, Darlene finally has a kiln room to call her own!

For the past 18 months Darlene has shoehorned in her glazing and kilns into a room the size of a walk-in closet. A couple of times she was forced to glaze at the same time the kiln was running. Obviously the room was hot as hell. She quit that practice entirely when her arm barely bumped up against the kiln when it was around 1000F (not half the top temperature, but painful nonetheless).

Another room was available for use in our warehouse, but in order to liberate it we first had to finish the second floor of our warehouse (insulation, new flooring, drywall, etc). When we bought the building the warehouse roof was completely rotted through as was the flooring below. After displacing many a mushroom it is finally ready for use—and we get our kiln room.

There will be enough room for three kilns and we’ll more than double our firing capacity. Finally we’ll get a decent number of pots through.

Grad school week four is tomorrow. It’s Thursday night already? Where has this week flown? Making time to study has been harder than I thought, but I’m finding more of it as I get the distractions shoved aside. It sounds odd, but once I get into it, doing homework is almost peaceful. If you hear me say that as I prepare for my mid-term exam then you’ll know I’m in deep.

Posted in Mudcat-Pottery

Kiln down and up

We’ve held our open house the past two weekends and we survived in spite of ourselves. Our sales were lower than expected, but we would have been dead meat if they were high as we were not able to get pots out of our kiln for the past week—so it balances out.

We kept getting an “error one” on our kiln’s computer controller. That means one of three things—there’s an element dead, we’re not getting enough electrical draw or a relay is out.

The kiln was supposed to fire to 2200F and it died at 1750F. We let it cool and opened up the controller and there was a very loose wire so we started her up again. It died at 1750F again. So we called in an electrical engineer sort who was able to test to see if we were pulling enough amps and whether the relays were working.

It turned out one of the three relays died. Fortunately, our supplier in Cincinnati, Annie’s Mudpie Shop, carried the part and I made an emergency run to snag it yesterday. Our friend installed it today and it’s been running great. We are now within 20 degrees of a complete firing. Finally.

Mind you, the trip to Cinci also allowed Darlene to grab some chemicals and I got to stop at Half Price Books—I bought two manga (Oh My Goddess) and a anime DVD (Sherlock Hound), lightweight, but very fun.

Darlene’s going to check the kiln and I think it’ll be done for the first time in too long. Then we can crash ourselves.

Posted in Mudcat-Pottery

New rack cards arrived

My biggest grin today was seeing a project come to fruition.

I’ve been slowly working on a full-color 4”x9” rack card for Darlene. Rack cards are a great networking/marketing tool for a small town. If a tourist gets to one business and a rack card catches their eye, they’ll often visit that business.

I’ve made two assumptions. 1) All the cards in town are mono-tone. If they see color, they’ll react. 2) A person seeing the words Mudcat Pottery may not understand what it it. Is it paint-your-own? Do they sell ceramic supplies? However, if they see a beautiful pot in full color, again they’ll react.

Basically, her work speaks for itself and I wanted to convey just that. Combine these thoughts and I think spending a few extra bucks for full color will result in more traffic and sales.

Either way, the cards arrived today and they look absolutely wonderful. If we don’t get an uptick after I get these things distributed I’ll eat these rack cards.

We worked through a company called 48hourprint.com that specializes in printing full color printing on both sides and makes it affordable by putting multiple jobs on the press at the same time. They call it gang printing. The big upside is you’re sharing the cost with other clients and can get cheap prices. The downside is there can be variations in color on the job. I haven’t looked through the whole box, but the ones on top are beautifully printing and high grade glossy stock. I’m extremely pleased with how they turned out. We bought 2,500 of them and even with shipping we spent less than $300 or about 11.7 cents each. You can hardly get a black and white photocopy for that.

I can’t wait to get them around town. They are very classy, but they say “wow” and I can’t wait to get the feedback. Yes, I admit it. I’m looking forward to an ego feeding. Darlene’s pot looks awesome and the card looks awesome.

Posted in Mudcat-Pottery

A candidate visits

Darlene was downstair wrapping up her pots for the night (she lets them dry as long as she can before wrapping them up) when a couple was intently looking in the window.

She didn’t want to be rude, so she invited them in.

Low and behold, it was the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Marvin Scott. He’s a really nice guy and him and his wife likes Darlene’s favorite pots.

We had a nice conversation, including politics and pots obviously. I asked him to consider repealing portions of the Patroit Act that allow searches of library and bookstore records (I couldn’t resist).

They wanted to buy one of Darlene’s sculptures, but they have an 8-year-old at home who had earlier broken a piece of pottery from Peru. They appear to have settled on a box vase and may return for it tomorrow.

Mr. Scott has been campaigning around Indiana like crazy in a rather uphill battle against the incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Evan Bayh. He attended the Jefferson County Republican Women’s annual ice cream social tonight which was held two blocks away along the riverfront.

Again, really nice folks. He’s a sociology professor at Butler and his wife teaches at Anderson U. For anyone interested, here’s his campaign website. (See I’m not such a die hard Democrat that I won’t give a nice guy a weblink, I’ll just make my own voice heard at the polls).

Posted in Mudcat-Pottery

Let me brag on my wife

For the past five years, Darlene spends the spring working on creating the trophies for the Madison Courier Firecracker 10K Race that’s held here every year during the Fourth of July weekend.

For the last four years Clarksville, Ind., runner Amanda Bell has won the women’s division and as a result has several of Darlene’s sculptures created as the winner’s trophey.

Apparently, she is enjoying them…

I love to come back to Madison. Its a sentimental race for me and even though I could probably run somewhere else for money, I told my coach hed just have to deal with it because Im going to Madison… And the trophies are the best anywhere. They are very unique and very artistic. Most places you run you get a plaque. What can you do with a plaque? Everybody that sees my Courier 10K trophies just loves them. Ive got them sitting all around and they are my favorite awards.

Read the rest of the article.

Here’s what this year’s trophies look like as Darlene opened the kiln.

kilntrophies.JPG

Posted in Mudcat-Pottery

It’s show time

This is the first fine arts festival of the year for us. Actually, I think it’s the first show we’ve done in nine months or so. We’ve been busy setting up our studio the whole time.

For anyone in Northern Indiana, Mudcat Pottery will be at the Leeper Park Art Fair in South Bend. It’s a really nice show in a nice park along the St. Joseph River.

The pots are being packed as I type and we’ll be heading for the northern tier this afternoon.

Posted in Mudcat-Pottery

A neat article on Madison (and the pottery)

CIN Weekly, the “alternative” weekly put out by the “establishment” daily newspapers in Cincinnati did a really nice travel article on our fine town.

Included in the article was a blush-worthy paragraph on Darlene’s pottery.

We were greeted as we walked in by Jerry Yarnetsky and his wife, Darlene, “the mud potter” herself. She was delighted to show us around and give us a live creative clay-in-action demonstration. Her unique style reminded me of handmade European pottery I bought while living in Germany. Her works would add a vibrant and one-of-a-kind accent to any room. She has vases, bowls, mugs and many more decorative pieces. (I could have bought and bought, but my husband has put me on pottery probation.)

Posted in Mudcat-Pottery

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