Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I have finished the race!

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." -2 Timothy 4:7

Boy, that sure feels like fitting words to share tonight. I thought it about time to pop in here and let y'all know that I have survived the last two weeks and come out relatively unscathed. Having successfully completed the IMT Des Moines Marathon last Sunday (10/16), I came home and tackled the back end of my "Marathon(ing) Week" with a show this last Friday and Saturday. Good times all around.

Friday and Saturday I had the great joy and honor to be selected to participate in the First Lady's Prairie Arts Showcase, a local event held in conjunction with the Governor's Invitational Pheasant Hunt. I certainly consider it to be a great honor to be among the 32 South Dakota artists selected to participate and would certainly like to take this line of text to thank First Lady Linda Daugaard, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the South Dakota Department of Tourism for their work in preparing a fine event.
My booth space. Click on the picture for a better view.
According to other artists that have done this show before, this was a bit of an off year - sales-wise, mood-wise, etc. Somewhat to be expected - with an election last fall, this is a new administration which translates to a new guest list and so no telling just what people were expecting. As a result, Friday evening saw very little action for the artists, at least in our section of the show. A handful of folks did stop by the artist booths to check out the work and do some pre-shopping, but there were very few sales to be seen.

Saturday was a horse of a different color. There was a bit more interest from hunt guests (and their accompaniments) as they congregated for the day's events. Mid-morning the show was opened to the public and things really started to pick up.  I had pretty regular sales throughout the better part of the day and got to meet a whole lot of great folks from town and made some connections that could lead to further opportunities to display/sell my work locally.  I had a great afternoon. Things slowed down again in the early evening as we transitioned back to a private event for the Hunt Guests and I made one or two more sales to guests in the evening - mostly local folks who were also contributors to the success of the Hunt, whether organizationally or hosting hunts on their land.

All that to say, despite the fact that the show was open for over 20 hours and I'd say 15 full hours were spent NOT doing anything remotely resembling business, it was a good event. I got to share a hall with some great South Dakota artists and managed to have some fun along the way.  I do know that if I were not a local artist I might not be so optimistic about the turnout - I had no travel expenses to do this show, no lodging, no gas costs, no on-the-road meals. If that were not the case, what I sold would barely have covered my expenses for the weekend. That would be, generally, a problem. But I got through.

I had a lot of concerns as this was my first show in nearly two years and certainly a different setting than I've showed in the past. At the end of the day, I think I did a fair job at things. I could elaborate if any of my loyal readers have questions, but for now I'll leave it at that and say that I'm certainly glad to have that one under my belt and thinking that I'll be much more prepared for the next one to come my way.


Before I could prep for this show, I had a marathon to run. So yikes. As this is not a running/fitness blog I'll spare any nitty-gritty details.  Like, I'm not going to post a picture of my toenail that went from deep red to ink-stain-purple and is still hanging on quite tenaciously. But, as it's quite a significant accomplishment, I'd be amiss not to share a bit. Including pictures. Great big thank you to my parents for being our "pit crew" and cheering all morning! So, the short story: we finished! All three! In reasonable times!

Read on for the longer version...
At the start - me, Krystal, and Krystal's dear friend Sandy.
It was a great day for running. Specifically, a great day for running for multiple hours. It was a bit chilly at the start, but reasonably temped as the sun came up - starting around 45 degrees and warming up not much higher than the upper 50's with reasonable sun and mixed breeziness. Krystal and her dear friend Sandy ran most of their race together - significant as they ran their last marathon together in 2004. Well done, kiddos.
I'm not sure what we were talking about, but I couldn't pass on this photo. I call it "Anticipation" and I think I need to blow it up to 16x20, frame it, and hang it prominently in our home. Waiting at the starting line, listening to the Star Spangled Banner.
I settled into the starting corral somewhere around the 4:30 pacer (that's four hours and thirty minutes total, not a per-mile pace) and quickly found myself keeping pace with a nice runner who would stay with me for 24 miles. Martijn was a very nice fellow originally from the Netherlands who has been living stateside for the last 15 years or so and works for an Iowa Ag company as a corn breeder. I told him that sounded like a pretty kinky job and he thought that was pretty funny.
Me and Martijn somewhere around mile 13, I think. Still feeling pretty good at this point.
Somewhere around Mile 8 I said to Martijn, just that two more times and a little bit. It doesn't sound so bad when you say it like that. Again, around Mile 13, the halfway point, you have this moment of "I feel great. Everything we've already run, run it again? No problem!" Three miles later, 16 miles in, with 10 miles to go, you realize you're rather bored of the run. Over the next six miles boredom turns to irritation turns to discomfort turns to something resembling pain. Martijn and I parted ways just before Mile 24 - I was fighting my first bad cramps of the run, my quads were seizing up (<--nitty-gritty?) - and I was falling behind. No words to share, I was just slowing down and he was still feeling good. Turns out he felt good only for the next two miles and got hit with a nasty cramp within sight of the finish line. I had to take my time through the last two water stations at miles 24 and 25, but finished strong to the finish, banishing the cramps to far away places.
At the finish - I'm a marathoner!
It felt good crossing the finish line, mostly to be done running. But I felt great otherwise. My ever-supportive father's response to my good feelings? "Then you must not have run hard enough." My final chip time was 4:12:14 - a very respectable time, and a good pace throughout. My goal was to land somewhere around 4:30, I thought 4:15 was an optimistic goal #2. Finishing under four hours would have been incredible as goal #3, but we certainly didn't train to run at that sort of pace and given that I felt really good about my run I'm not sure that there was anywhere I could have realistically shaved 12 minutes from. Besides, now I have a goal to strive for on Marathon #2 :)
Me, Krystal, and Sandy - we all made it!
Krystal came in a bit after me (she hasn't disclosed me to share her time, but I'll say it was much better than her last marathon) and Sandy was about 10 minutes after that. Good looking trio, huh?

So that was that. Went back to my brother's place, showered, took a nap, grabbed some barbecue with a dear old friend in Ames and on to my childhood home in Clear Lake, IA. Monday we spent six hours in the car which is exactly the sort of thing you want to do after running a marathon (<--sarcasm). Upon arriving home I got to finish sanding, pricing, and packing up pots for the following four days which leads us back to the top of the post.

Looking forward to a break from things long-runnish and super-pottish for a bit. I do have some throwing to do to get some Christmas orders in, and I'll be back to running as soon as my joints tell me it's okay. In the meantime, trying to enjoy the last bits of temperate weather that we might be having for a while up in these parts. The last week (running Sunday through Saturday) represent the culmination of a lot of hard work and discipline set in action nearly 5 months ago, and it mostly feels good to have come out the other side stronger for it, rather than buckling or falling short in any significant way.

With that, stay classy and thanks for stopping by. I'll let you know when potting of significance resumes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lots of Firing Around Here

Busy busy busy. I seem to be starting a lot of note that way these days. The final firing before my show is cooling to be unloaded tonight. I've been firing nonstop since last Friday night: a final bisque load and now into my third (I think?) glaze firing. There's no way I'll be able to log all of my pots as "slide" quality images, but the bottom line is that a lot of them aren't portfolio worth pots. I'll hopefully find time in the next 9 days with enough good natural lighting to get some good photos of my favorite pots to come out of the last couple months work. In the meantime, here's a taste of what's been coming out of the kiln.
I did a baker's half-dozen cups like this. I may be taking a break from my sgraffito this winter to do more pieces that emphasize carving, relief, and glaze work. Mostly I love these two glazes together. Wishing I had a whole set of work like this.
Another mountain vase. They're coming out pretty regularly lately. The brown still isn't as strong as I'd like, but what can you do?
Bowls and bowls and bowls. These are itty-bitty ice cream dishes. Or whatever. Beautiful reds.
Still not avoiding disappointment. Here are two stacked bowls with the glaze doing this. In addition to the 6 from the earlier firing that didn't turn out in this combo. And the six small ones that I tried with an alternative glazing that didn't pan out either. Argh. Went back to my glaze/firing log and discovered what I've been doing wrong here, but too late to help these bowls. Blurgh.
This is a big one - blue and sandstone. Should have stayed with the red-sandstone combo, but it's a pretty blue, nonetheless.
More cups.  A whole palette. And remember: Choose Natural Energy!!!
And last, but not least, I think my favorite from this round of work. The glaze, the shape. It's a winner. Now, to make sure I don't arbitrarily price this one head and shoulders above the rest just so I can keep it...
That's it. Don't know how much more news I'll be able to get up in the next week. On the road this weekend to run a marathon - hopefully I don't die. Then home to finish sanding and washing and prepping and pricing for the show. And then the show. And then I may sleep for a week or two straight.

In addition, if you're not already, listen to the new records from Switchfoot and MuteMath. They are amazing.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Unloading the Kiln

Top shelf - opening the kiln. Love that agate-y bleed on the top of that vase.
Second shelf.
Bottom of the kiln.
All the pots. Chillin'.
Just a quick preview for y'all. Back to the grindstone...