The three most important things about selling on line are 1- the photograph 2- the photograph and 3- the copy. Let’s face it when someone is scrolling through thousands of available products you have about a 60th of a second to catch their eye and then you have a moment to get their attention.
When I first opened my online shop one of the first things I did was search for something that I also make. For example, a teapot. Then after scrolling through the first five pages I jumped to page 12,879. I found photos that were dark, out of focus, and swamped by the fussy background. In order to eliminate the problem of too dark and fuzzy is to use a tripod. You can shoot at very slow shutter speeds to allow enough light in without moving during the shot. Auto focus has been a real help since my eyes aren’t getting any sharper but if you have the option to shoot in different modes you may need to set the focus area. It’s important to try to focus in a mid point of a 3-D item so the whole item is in focus not just the front on the rim. Using a small aperture (the bigger the f-stop number the smaller the opening) also creates a bigger “depth of field”. This means that more of the item, front to back will be in focus as opposed to just a thin front to back slice being in focus. Of course the smaller the opening, the longer the exposure time to get enough light making a tripod essential.
Disclaimer here, I don’t know anything about cell phone photography, smart or otherwise. I use a digital SLR camera and I learned with film cameras. I’m sure someone out there has come up with a tiny tripod for phone cameras. No matter what camera you use, photos are still all about light so let’s start there. I like to use natural light and I often shoot pictures of my Greenmen outside on the east side of the house in the afternoon shade. I tack a piece of backdrop onto the wall with a hole at the screws for hanging the piece.
One of the drawbacks of using natural light is conditions are not always optimal. An overcast day on the shady side of the building is best. However you can create some overcast by tacking a large piece of semi sheer fabric at the top of the backdrop for the piece and drape it over you and camera to diffuse the sharp reflections that occur on a bright sunny day. I have also used a canopy with poster board covering the gap to create more shade for my green man photos. If you look closely you can see the reflections of the trees in the background.
Most of my items are smaller than the Greenmen and I shoot these on my table with a translucent white backdrop that is hanging from the ceiling and can be rolled up when not in use. I also hang some sheer white fabric in front of the table to give a uniform look to the highlights, eliminate reflections and bounce more light on the subject.
The light comes from a west window so I shoot before the sun gets too low. I can also open a door if the light is dim , for example on a rainy day. I also use a piece of white poster board on the dark side to bounce more light back onto the shadows. A few highlights and a gentle shadow are fine and help show the dimensions of the piece. If you don’t have a window handy a lamp will do. You may have to try different white balance options to find the one that gives the truest color balance.
If the item has a shiny dark surface using a piece of black fabric or paper in front of the item will eliminate reflections of every item in the room. Cut a hole or a long vertical slit for the camera lens to peek through.
I’m able to make any adjustments needed using the photo app that came with my computer, color balance and exposure are the most used along with cropping, fill up that screen. Think of your photograph as another work of art and really look at it. Keep notes and keep trying, you’ll get better.
Four of my slumped glass and clay sculptures will be on display this winter. “Off Course” seen above and below will be in the Athens Voices show that starts in Athens Ohio on Jan 13.
click the link below to see where it will sail off to next…
Three more sculptures will be in the Ohio University Multicultural Center Gallery in Baker Center as part of the Women of Appalachia Project. I’ll be helping to hang the show with several other artists, this is one of the perks, getting to know other artists in a relaxed space where we all work together to put on a show. And quite a show it is, funny, thoughtful, personal, evocative, and poetic! The opening reception is on Feb 3 from 5-8pm. click on the link below for more info
I will be selling my work in five places this holiday season. As always, in my etsy shop, just click on store at the top of this page to go there and see my wares.
Starting November 18,2016 and running through December 24 the Dayton Visual Art Center will be showcasing my work in their annual Holiday Gift Gallery. Here’s a link
On Black Friday I will be starting a three day craft fair in downtown Cincinnati (Covington KY) sponsored by Ohio Designer Craftsmen. Nov 25-27. Stop by booth #328 for a 10% discount!
On December 2 and 3 I’ll be doing one last craft fair at the Dairy Barn in Athens, OHhttp://dairybarn.org/event-view/2016-holiday-bazaar/
As always my work is available year round at the Nelsonville Emporium in Nelsonville, OH and the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, OH
The featured image above is the green man that inspired a custom order. The customer requested a happier visage, most of my guys look somewhat stony. I did do a winking green man many years ago I’ll try to dig up a pic before I finish this post (it was taken in my pre digital days). Most of the green man facial features are limited to eyes, nose and mouth. I often spend time working a dimple or crease only to have it disappear under the leaves. I still do all the foundation work because it defines the lines that I will follow later.
When I do a custom order I usually make at least two, the fire goddess can be cruel. This is contestant number one for my customer to choose from. He is larger, has darker green glaze because of the thickness of the glaze. I think he looks like he has just gotten a joke or he is about to tell one. The next three photos show close ups of him showing the definition in the leaves.
Contestant number two is a little smaller, and a little more triangular in shape. The glaze gets thinner in some spots and lets the leafy details shine through. I poured this glaze onto the piece while I was holding it over a bucket to catch the overflow. I used the same procedure for both, but the results vary because it is very difficult to see the different thicknesses until the piece is fired.
As you compare the two green men consider that I hand form each face. I think there is a strong family resemblance mostly in my magnificent noses but they come by it honestly. I will end this post with a gallery of green men and women that I have made. enjoy
I have always been open to making custom orders, I prefer them to be in my ballpark but if the idea intrigues me and I have the time, well I’m a sucker for a challenge, and it’s a perfect excuse to try something new. Experimentation being the soul of creativity.
I recently received two commission orders for matching dog food and water bowls, so I documented the process for both. Each order was unique, as is each dog. As I put this post together I realize I didn’t take any pictures of the forming process. I will update with pics of my next 3-D dog dish……. but meanwhile
One customer wanted an extreme slow food dish with the raised center to be an English Bulldog face and his name on the outside, “McKensington”. I asked for pictures because if you’re doing a face you may as well be specific with the markings. I thought he would be older…
I was completely smitten when I saw the pictures of little McKensington and I was determined to make him a bowl he could grow into. My first task was to draw a face. I did this by looking at clip art and photos of English Bulldogs and making a drawing that would fit into the proposed bowl. After making my drawing in my sketchbook to size, I traced it onto another sheet of paper that I cut out and cut along some of the lines in the face. I also needed a name for both the food and water bowl so I made a template with cutouts.
After throwing the bowl, I used the paper face to cut it out of the bottom of the bowl. When cutting I always angle the cut so the piece will drop out of the bottom and sit inside overlapping along the edges. I attached the cut out face onto the bottom of the bowl by scoring and slipping the two pieces together being careful to retain all of the detail. I then used the paper to add the lines and markings on the face. All of this was done on soft clay, after the bisque firing the lines were “set in stone”.
At the last minute, I did a modicum of research, little pink noses usually turn into black noses. A quick e-mail confirmed, “Yes please go black”.
The glazing process included several “Stroke and Coat” glazes from Mayco. When I do my detail work, the lines that I carved into the face allow me to contain colors. I then wax the glazed parts and dip into an overall glaze. In this case the over all glaze was to be “Sea Green Pearl” from Columbus Clay Co. http://www.columbusclay.com/
The second custom dog food and water bowl order was for little Peppa Jane, she’s a little older than McKensington but just as cute!!
Oh so adorable Peppa Jane, this is the bowl that inspired this custom order. I was requested to add the name Peppa onto the pig in a food and water bowl.
I made the bowls much like the ones before but the pig is only slightly raised, a medium slow feeder. I made the pigs so they could face each other, or not.
I was halfway through the process when I realized that I didn’t have enough of the old brown glaze to cover two bowls. I usually use brown glazes for accents on my Greenmen and Twig Teapots and don’t keep a large bucketful, so I bought more of the glaze and did some tests. It didn’t go well as they had changed the formula. After much fretting I asked the customer if she’d be happy with another background color. She liked blue, blue is grand, I had more than one to choose from and we settled on the cobalt blue. The pig is glazed with Stroke & Coat “Cheeky Pinky” the name Peppa was carved and filled in with Stroke & Coat “Bluebeard”. This was covered with wax and the rest of the bowls were dipped into my big bucket of “Ultramarine” blue from Columbus Clay.
The tail is a 3-D curl of clay with gobs of glaze to keep it easy to clean. I hope to update this post with pictures of the bowls “in action”. You can see where the two dips into the blue glaze overlapped to create a wide dark blue line. I position my dip to make this overlap make sense in the overall design ie a horizon line.
If you’d like to read chapter one of this saga go to the “Don’t Count Your Chickens” entry of May 2015. So, some months after I recovered from that disaster and I had a Green man commission I decided to make another Medusa too.
I didn’t take any pictures of the process this time but it is essentially the same. Start with a hand made face and add snakes to taste.
She is available for sale on etsy
Every dog is an individual with all the quirks and preferences that entails. Some dogs like to savor their dry kibble, some can’t woof it down fast enough. I was chatting with my Vet about making a dish that would slow down the eating so I would have a chance to exit the room before they finished, she suggested a raised area to make it impossible to take great big bites.
My first thought was “What would a doggie like to see in his or her bowl?”
How about a tennis ball, or better yet three?
Bones are always appreciated.
I’ve been throwing dog food and water bowls for years with pencil drawings of bones and fire hydrants in the bottom. My first 3-d bowls had the bone, ball or squirrel pushed up from the bottom but this severely limited the depth. I now cut the shape out of the bottom of a hand thrown bowl and reattach it inside. For tennis and baseballs I use a press mold to make the ball and add it or them to the thrown bowl.
These bowls and more are available for sale in my shop. Some have sold out but I can always make another.
Let me start by admitting that the reason I work alone is because I am a diva. Well that felt good, but of course any one who knows me knows that’s no secret. But the Diva that I refer to here is that little black cat, Liz. If you’ve been keeping up you’ll know that the little………… cat …………………. sorry I was trying to come up with some PG adjectives for her. I failed.
Long story short, she’s been confined to my studio during the daylight hours for the sake of the Hummingbirds and Barn Swallows.
She doesn’t seem to mind. In fact I usually have to wake her up and kick her out at night.
I decided to try and exploit her for some photos of my little cat food dishes. Anyone who’s ever hosted a cat knows that they are the masters of exploitation, so try to stop laughing long enough to see the results. I started by offering food, the good stuff!
She made quick work of the food and moved on.
Well, after a snack and a bath she was bored with the whole thing, and sauntered off. I kept shooting the pottery and just as I was finishing up, she waltzed back onto my table and settled in for a nap. So I started putting dishes in front of her and clicked away with my camera, and after all that I got my picture.
If you’d like an autographed copy just contact me.
The usual cry around here is “Who let the cat IN!!” This spring however we have had to lock up Liz for the sake of two Bluebird,one Tree Swallow, and three or four Barn Swallow nests. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the Hummingbirds.
We live on an 80 acre farm with several out buildings including a huge barn so all nine of the cats live outside my house. There are exceptions for illness and old age but they are only allowed in my pottery studio and the breezeway. As long as they don’t break anything.
Most of the cats have had their summer of carnage when they were young but usually some strategic mouse traps at the base of the bluebird houses, a well thrown glass of water or letting the dogs out kept things under control. But Liz is a holy terror. She hides under the red poppies to grab unsuspecting Hummingbirds.
She also thinks it’s a great good game when the Barn Swallows dive bomb her. She waits for them to swoop into range and tries to grab them out of the air. Barn Swallows build their nests in the most unreachable spots you can imagine, not even a coon could get them. Yet they insist on putting themselves at risk and of course if the parent dies…
Most cats outgrow this penchant for birds, they get harassed too but they keep their head down and move it along. They sleep under the car instead of on top of it and I even had one old cat, Floyd that laid out in the sun and let the Mockingbirds slam right into him.
So we’ll see who wins this battle of wills. My plan as usual is to feed her till she’s too fat to care. It’s worked on most of them so far.
The real question is what level of damage can I stand!
Then I remind myself, baby birds are baby birds,
cats are cats
and clay is dirt.
Time? That’s all I have.
PS. Cali was another holy terror (she nailed a squirrel when she was still a kitten) but these days all she wants is IN !