My Rules For Life – Version 1.0

In no particular order…

  1. Have Goals. Work towards goals. Celebrate small victories and milestones. Celebrate failures as a testament your hard work and persistence.
  2. Go to the bathroom and pee before you leave, even if you don’t think you have to.
  3. Assume you’ll be doing more walking than you planned
  4. Let it go, or give and appropriate action/response, and then let it go.
  5. Take a break to help you keep going longer, fresher, better (faster, stronger!). Don’t take a break to put off things that need to be done.
  6. Turn ideas on their head, especially negative ones.
  7. Taking the T (subway) is almost like having a personal chauffeur if you think about it the right way.
  8. Don’t believe something or take something seriously because it’s popular, commonly accepted, etc. Question!
  9. If something isn’t working quite right, ask why and try to find an answer.
  10. Don’t assume you’re the problem.
  11. Forgive, but don’t forget.
  12. Allow people that influence your life negatively to drift out of your life. Even though there’s never enough time, try to remember to reach out to the good ones to let them know you care.
  13. Don’t eat the yellow snow.
  14. Call people on their bullshit, but try to do it in a way that gets them to think. You can’t change most people’s minds, but you’ll feel better doing your thoughts and values justice by expressing them well.
  15. Your body will get old a break. Don’t waste too much time on vanity.
  16. You will die one day, definately too soon. Still, you’ll probably wake up tomorrow and have to deal with things. Plan for tomorrow, but also seize today.
  17. Be well, but don’t try to live forever.
  18. Don’t let others tell you what you should value. Find your own truth.
  19. Games make your brain happy. Leave time for games.
  20. Moderation in all things, including moderation.
  21. Jealousy is useless. The rich and famous are just as miserable, if not more. Pay attention to your own lawn.
  22. You’re always competing with yourself and your own limitations. Learn from and share with others.
  23. It’s not okay to murder people when they tell you something is, ‘not that spicy’.
  24. Try new things, but you don’t have to try something if you don’t want to.
  25. You actually don’t have to overcome all of your fears. It’s okay to be afraid sometimes. You’re not Batman.
  26. Make rules for yourself, and change them when there’s a good reason. Hold fast when there isn’t.

Interesting Care Instructions

King Richard’s Faire is in about a month and lately I’ve been thinking about including information and care instruction cards with my purchases. I wanted to see what other people did, so I looked around on the internet. This opened a huge can of worms as I’ve been reading all kinds of crazy things.

I know. Crazy things written by people on the internet!? Get out. That never happens.

I was hoping that I’d get some easy direction on what to include based on what others do, but instead, I still haven’t decided on whether or not to actually include care instructions. I am leaning towards yes, but I actually noticed that these are completely missing from the online stores and websites of some of my favorite potters. My guess is that they’re relying on common sense and answering questions on a ‘one on one’ basis when they’re asked.

Then there is are a lot of claims that I’ve never heard before, even in the most misinformed and superstitious circles. I plan to blog about it at some point… but I’m not sure I can handle that kind of angry and ranty post right now.

Instead, I want to share some of the other mind boggling things I found: the obvious.

Here are some examples of care instructions that I think would make even the most ignorant of layman face palm. I’ve started off with the worst and tapered off to some that you might see as being necessary when thinking of some people you know.

Maybe you have an Uncle Fred that put laundry detergent in the dishwasher or a friend named Sam who sets the stove on fire a couple times a month.

Avoid Dropping

Let that one sink in.

Hey there! I know you were planning on dropping your pottery ON PURPOSE, because why try to avoid it, right? You bought this specifically for dropping, and you expect it to hold up when you use it for this purpose. So, I’m here to make sure you realize that you’re actually NOT supposed to be trying to drop your pottery. I won’t tell you what happens if you do drop it, but I will tell you: Avoid Dropping.

Furthermore, if I include that, does that mean I need to also say things like, “Not recommended for juggling”? Wow. I’m going to need more space for all of these care instructions!

After I told someone about this, they also helpfully recommended the following: “Avoid throwing, hitting, punching, chewing, attempting to eat, dropping into vats of acid or lava, throwing at people, throwing at pets, throwing at dragons, using to stop cars, using to stop rampaging wild life. Not a substitute for modern medicine, clothing, transportation or travel. Please consult your local pottery expert before use.”

Wash before first use.

…because I would directly eat out of something people at a fair have been picking up all day.

Actually, this is really pushy. Technically you don’t NEED to wash it before your first use.

Maybe you’re one of those people who like to live on the edge. You are the type of person who won’t wash your hands before leaving the restroom. It only says ’employees must wash hands’, and you’re a customer, so that obviously doesn’t apply to you.

So are you going to waste perfectly good room in your sink or dishwasher!? Heck no. It’s a bowl whether or not you wash it before using it. It will hold your cereal just as well either way.


Dry thoroughly before storing.

Wait. There are people who put away their dishes when they are wet!? Dishwashers have ‘dry’ settings. People who wash by hand use ‘drying racks’ or ‘drying towels’ (aka dish towels, as in, for using to dry your dishes).

Who are these people who need to be told both to wash their dishes AND make sure they’re dry before putting them away?

One friend of mine put it to me this way, “Babe. Common sense isn’t common.”

May become hot when used in microwave

Did you know that things become hot when you put them in the microwave?

But wait, ceramic bowls get hotter than a plastic bowl! Maybe we need to let people know that heating up soup in the microwave with their new handmade pottery bowl may result in a really hot bowl.

It is true that some ceramic dishes get hotter than others… but this is not a factor of handmade pottery by any means. For instance, a friend of mine mentioned some dishes she got at Ikea that get hotter than her other dishes. She was okay without the warning. Her first instinct wasn’t to cuddle her dishes full of hot food that just came out of the microwave and is careful when she takes them out.

Sad part is, this is one I’m actually giving some consideration and thought to. Thanks, internet. I think you broke me.

Do not use directly on stovetop.

Apparently some people are confusing pottery with pots. I can see that. These two words use a lot of the same letters.

Yes, I know there are special pots out there that claim they can be safely used directly on the stove top, but this is a special feature. There are also glass pots and pans that can go on the stove, but we know not to put any other glass on the stovetop. In general, if it’s not metal, why would you assume it goes on your stove top?

How are there not more fires and dead people in general?

Dishwasher safe, hand wash recommended…

…and it goes on to say how it’s safer to hand wash things.

Look, I don’t know how things work in your house, but I break more things hand washing. I honestly don’t feel comfortable judging if you’re someone like me, or someone like the people writing this care instruction. That’s right. I found this in multiple places.

Dishwasher means I pick it up and put it in the dishwasher. It stays in there safely washing and drying until I open the dishwasher, lift it, and put it away. I guess I could drop it putting it in the dishwasher or taking it out, but I don’t usually prewash stuff, so it’s not very slippery when I put it in. It’s dry when I take it out.

Hand wash means it soaks and clinks around with whatever else is in my sink being washed (don’t clink too much!). It gets picked up, soapy, and handled while slippery until it’s clean (don’t drop it). Then I rinse it (don’t drop it), inspect it to make sure it’s clean (don’t drop it), and put it on a towel or in a dish rack (don’t knock it off the counter).

It’s not just me either. I’ve had roommates break their share of pottery (and other stuff) handwashing. I haven’t had a single dishwasher casualty yet, and all of the pottery goes in there.

Someone even talked about things ‘clinking around’ in their dishwasher while it was running. Maybe it’s time you got a new dishwasher, or maybe you don’t load things right? If I put a cup in X spot in my dishwasher, it is in X spot when I open it. It’s not a clothes washer… If your dishwasher has a spin cycle, yes, I recommend hand washing.

Now, I do know some pottery is not suitable for the dishwasher and needs to be carefully hand washed, but then your care instructions should say “hand wash only”, and that’s it. If you think your pottery is going to ‘loose life and luster’ over time being washed in the dishwasher (whatever that means), maybe you should say ‘hand wash only’. More importantly though, let’s talk about how your pottery is alive. Personally, if I had sentient pottery, it’d be allowed in the bathtub and shower.

Note to self… Only use literal language when writing care instructions in case someone like me is reading them.

Spring, Time For New

Back when most potters didn’t even have a website, I had the bad habit of redoing mine about once a year. The last website sat for many years as I told myself over and over not to redo the site because:

Bye old website!

Bye old website!

  • I felt like my site was better than most other ceramics artists I admired (if they even had one)
  • I did most sales in person, and the few online ones go through Etsy
  • I never felt like I had enough time to work in the studio

Recently , I started to feel like ceramic artists were finally springing up with their own beautiful and functional websites. It’s now not uncommon for these people to do a good amount to most of their sales online. Many just point to Etsy, many handle their own sales through their website, and many tell customers to call or email to work it all out.

Etsy has a couple of good reasons to use it. For one, it can bring traffic to your shop that you wouldn’t normally have. Secondly, Etsy has become a name that people trust ordering their stuff from. Even if they haven’t heard of Sally Pottery Maker, they’ve ordered from Etsy before (or know people who have), so they feel okay clicking the buy button.

Etsy also has several good reasons for artists not to use it. The first one is the cost. They charge you for listing your stuff (like eBay) and it expires after so much time. The extra step of keeping track when something will expire and renew it is a pain, and now you’re paying a second time to list it. Maybe you’re someone like me that pays to list something, then inevitably, that’s the thing that sells in person and I need to take it down. It doesn’t refund you for deactivating a listing early. Etsy will also charge you on the actual money you make as well, taking a cut every time you sell something. Etsy now has direct checkout, but back when it was Paypal, that meant both Etsy and Paypal were charging you. All of those fees add up and cut into the less than huge makings of an artist.

I just alluded to this, but the second biggest reason not to use it is that it doesn’t do anything helpful for inventory management if you’re not selling exclusively with Etsy. For people like me that sell in person, we have to have a spreadsheet or something else to keep track of what is in stock versus what isn’t, whether it was sold or if I dropped it on concrete, if it’s being shown somewhere, etc. This spreadsheet tells me what is on Etsy so I would remember to take it down. What I would really like is a real inventory management system, one that was integrated with enough things that I wouldn’t need a separate spreadsheet at all.

So I have two really good reasons to still use Etsy and two really great reasons to move on to something else. For now, I’m going to keep my Etsy site in tact while trying out WooCommerce. So far, it seems like you can use¬†WooCommerce for complete inventory management: adding notes, manually putting in orders that weren’t generated directly on the website, keeping track of stock, and even calculating and adding sales tax where appropriate. Even if WooCommerce works well, I may keep Etsy around for selling select items, just to keep a presence and bring more eyes to my work.

To jump back to my original list of reasons not to redo the website, I said that I never have enough time in the studio just making stuff. That’s still true. However, a good investment in a website could maybe finally mean never building it from the ground up again. That overall should save time, right? WordPress has been around and getting better for years and years now. I’ve been using it for my blog,, since 2007. This, coupled with the possibility of retiring the too big Google Drive inventory spreadsheet, makes a compelling argument.

Finally, the other big “Why now?” is that I’m doing the biggest sale I’ve ever done at the end of this summer / fall. I will be a vendor at King Richard’s Faire for the 2014 season, which means 18 days (2 long weekends and 6 regular ones). I started thinking that I didn’t want any customers I gained from the sale to be looking at an old website. I needed to prepare for things go well and assume I’ll get a spike in traffic online. So, even though I am worried about making enough for King Richard’s Faire, I’m spending time on a website. Hopefully it’ll be the last time I make a big investment of time doing this.

One more thing that should stand out is that this blog here is separate from TheSeize. I’ve wrestled with this for a long time. Should I make an ‘artist blog’ or not? Should I keep two blogs? Do I even have the time for two blogs? Do I cross post? I feel like one of the best examples of what blogging can do for a ceramic artists is Lori at¬†Fine Mess Pottery. I love reading her blog. I also feel like I lose something not writing about processes like this. Maybe in many cases I’ll be documenting questions, frustrations, and breaking things, but there’s value in that. By documenting failures I’ll also be documenting my eventual and inevitable success, right? And besides, I know I’m not alone in these thoughts, and speaking with the large online community is just as important as my own local artist community.

For a Friend Who Just Lost Their Mother

Hello everyone,

Please consider donating even just a few dollars or sharing on social media. Every bit helps!

I couldn’t imagine having a family member pass away and not only having to shoulder all of the funeral expenses, but not having the money to do it. The funeral home says they need all of the money up front, and until then there’s no service or closure.

When I Learn To Swim, Will The Water Change?

In a mythical future things would be better. Isn’t this what we all think about? One day, some day, maybe next time it will turn out right, turn out better, or turn out differently.

We wish we were satisfied while we realize there would be no progress without that struggle.

We feel guilty for our dissatisfaction since so many have it worse, and it could always be worse.

We strive for something better while we grasp and fumble on the details of how one actually accomplishes such a thing. How can I make things better? Can I? If it could be done, if it were so easy, wouldn’t life already be that way?

I can make ripples as an individual, but won’t the water just return to it’s still surface? Even if we all make splashing waves, the water stays the same.

Still, I have to believe we were put here to do more than just tread water.

When I learn to swim, will the water change?

If I start to drown, will someone save me?

The Gender Hate Stuff

Just by virtue of being a woman, never mind one with many hobbies, skills, interests, etc. that are male dominated, I think about gender issues a lot. There are women out there who don’t work at software companies, who have never tried going to classes a a gym full of men, who haven’t been playing video games since the 80s (or for their whole lives), who never worked in tech support, who weren’t ‘tom boys’ who played with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who aren’t really competitive, who never said ‘I want to be a major league baseball player when I grow up’, who never experienced sexual abuse, who never experienced street harassment, who were never followed or stalked, who have never been called a bitch for asserting themselves, who never worried about being perceived as a bitch for asserting themselves, and maybe those women don’t think about this stuff much.

Though gender issues affect everyone (not just women by any means), maybe people just don’t follow the news much these days. Maybe people don’t see it affecting themselves that badly and have a hard time with empathy and putting themselves in others shoes.

I am one of those people who tells themselves not to read the comments on articles, videos, blog posts, etc., but does it anyways. It doesn’t matter how much hope or despair is in the article, the comments can always pull you a different way. I find it interesting that I read something and think X, Y, Z, and other people think… BANANA! Even though I know some are just trolls being trolls, some will be real people and their real opinions, and I’m too curious not too look. A lone comment isn’t enough anymore to make me think people as a whole think one way or another, but when they pile up, you start to see a picture of what a group of people think. Too often, it’s not a pretty picture.

These pictures make me feel like we have so far to go as people, to be better, more compassionate, human beings.

I’m a person. I also just so happen to be a woman.

While I believe in my own equality, I also believe I shouldn’t have to fight for it. I shouldn’t have to hold myself up under the pressure of perfect example.

I’m a gamer. I don’t want to be the woman gamer that represents all the women. We’re all just as similar to men gamers, and just as different to other women gamers. I am a gamer. I am a woman. I am a person. These are all separate things about myself. I don’t want to be the woman anything. I don’t want to be the end all to define myself, but since I like certain things, it seems like it has to.

I am a person. Please treat me like a person.

When I read about victims who don’t report harassment or violence, I do feel sad that they didn’t push forward to help all women, like me, have a safer world. I also realize that it’s not fair of me, or anyone, to expect or ask that any of these individuals put themselves on the line inviting additional violence, pain, or even death upon themselves. It’s easy for people to blame a victim for not stepping up, because we feel like our voices will eventually make the world safer and make us equals.

It’s easy to blame the victim who steps up for not being the perfect example, for what they were wearing, their sexual history, for not reporting it immediately, for using imperfect language, their tone, or for not having a perfect past. We want a super hero, but instead we just have people. There are some people that just so happen to also be a women. We expect too much of them when they’re down, and we expect not enough of them when they have all the potential.

When the world fails you, we do the best we can, and try not to fail the world or ourselves.

I’m a person. I also just so happen to be a woman.