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.

Ew.

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, www.theseize.com, 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.

Ingress

I’ve played a lot of games.

Hundreds. I might even be approaching a thousand, if I’m honest with myself. I’d guess closer to 700, but it’s possible I hit a thousand. I never really counted.

Ingress is its own planet.

A friend described it to me as “Bloodless nerd gang warfare.”

The more I play, and the more I play it, the more I think he’s right.

But I can’t deny, it’s goddamned fun. Time consuming as hell, but fun.

In short, there’s these portals about the world, generally on historic sites, but more are added as people submit more.

It’s a world within the world. It’s a social experiment. It’s a weird attempt to get nerds wandering around. It’s just really cool.

Short post, sure. But it doesn’t change the general idea- Ingress is a fantastic idea. It’s not perfectly executed, but it’s getting better daily.

And the communities do their own thing, of course.

Signs That You May Take Ingress Too Seriously Part Two


If you’re just joining us here and don’t know what “an Ingress” is, head over to the last post Signs That You May Take Ingress Too Seriously

With the Cassandra Anomaly ending this past weekend, I think it’s appropriate to add a few more thoughts on this topic. While everyday game play is enough to bring out our inner mega frog or super smurf, the anomaly certainly pumped a lot of us up even more.

Keep in mind before you get offended that most of these are not only based on real life, but are things I might have been guilty of myself. I completely believe in self-examination and even laughing at oneself. Laughter is pretty cool stuff.

Anomalies

The Casandra anomaly was the highlight of your summer. You’re not sure what to do with yourself now. Farm?

You farmed so much for gear before and after the anomaly that the ache in your fingers and neck could be described as a new disease: Ingress Arthritis.

If you ran out of gear at the anomaly, you started engaging the other faction in polite small talk to distract them. While it hurt to talk to “the enemy”, it was worth it!

You convincingly spoke to the actors playing characters in Ingress as of they were their characters were real and we all lived in the world of Ingress. You didn’t do this because you’re a good actor. You asked them to help if they were sympathizers or agents for your faction. Otherwise, you argued for them to come over to “the right side”. You interrogated them for Intel about things in the story, what things meant and how they felt about things, to the point where the actor felt sure they were going to muck something up (“Uh… line?”).

You resolve to work on your cardio, but only so that next anomaly you can move between portals more quickly.

You documented the whole experience with detailed notes, analysis, and conclusions (completely with glossary, spreadsheets, more spreadsheets, etc.) so that your faction can be more effective next time and to pass Intel to your faction in other Casandra anomaly cities.

You biked 150 miles in one day to help erect a mega field for your faction in a different city.

You got so pumped for the anomaly and your team, that you started shouting orders at them like a quarterback. Your loud mouth and gestures did coach Sue Sylvester from Glee proud. You feel great satisfaction that you were able to get your whole team to move from one area to another particular area.

You got so disgusted by the quarterback type shouting from the other faction, that you and your team mates took several pot shots at the other team after calmly telling your own team, “This way, smart people,” and moving along.

You were confused for a minute when the latest Anomaly battle result wasn’t in the regular news headlines. -Submitted by UsernameCensored

On anomaly day, I looked at the sky and briefly panicked when I saw that it was blue. I thought for sure that the Resistance had put up a mega-field and we were going to lose horribly. -Submitted by Agent Danbsmitbo

Faction Action

You ‘ban’ someone from real life because he requested a faction change to the opposing faction. -Submitted by just some dude

You spend a good amount of time coming up with catchy operation names so that your G+ invites will sound cooler than “walking in a circle for an hour or so”.

Your faction propaganda is distributed via glossy, printed media that looks on par if not better than most art gallery promotions.

You leave your own birthday dinner to go outside and see who is wrecking your nearby portals.

Ingress events for your faction are usually followed by another Ingress event in the same day/night.

You get 3am portal attack notifications from an agent who lives at least 50 miles away. You still refuse to turn the sound off on your phone while you sleep at night.

There is some public record of a post office that doesn’t actually exist. This post office is on your living room, and you think it’s awesome.

Your local players get so bored they decide to create a third cross faction unofficial team called “team grey”.

Lingo of the Land

Ingress definitions of words become the default instead of the definitions used by the general public.

Ding is not the sound a bell makes, but instead has something to do with reaching new levels.

Capturing MU has nothing to do with chasing around cows.

You refer to yourself as an agent even though your work in a regular office building.

“Thinking with portals” still applies, but has less to do with cake and lies.

Hacking isn’t difficult. You just tap a touch screen a few times.

Power comes in cubes.

XM is not satellite radio. Actually, we’re not really sure what it is.

“Drop rate” is not morbid. It refers to items, not bodies. (“Boom! Head shot! …just kidding.)

Farming has nothing to do with plants or soil, though patience is still involved.

You consider it normal to burn farms often, sometimes the same one twice in one day. – Submitted by Agent Kiashien

Sponges are people, but they don’t live in a pineapples under the sea.

There is more than one female Smurf in the world. -Submitted by Agent Kiashien

Getting a virus is a good thing. -Submitted by Agent Kiashien

Insomnia Part 2

The raw lack of comment clearly demonstrates how people feel about insomnia.

I have literally never experienced anything as brutal, and chronic, as truly not being able to sleep for long periods of time.

So if you haven’t commented, I essentially assume you have been damned lucky and have never met a person who truly doesn’t have the option of sleep, or you just don’t care.

Insomniacs aren’t people who opt not to sleep. They’re not people who choose not to sleep. Most of them have a literal chemical imbalance in their blood that means… they really really want to sleep. In some cases, they consider suicide, because sleep just doesn’t happen for them.

My meds apparently keep changing. But my issue, my real annoyance, is that people think that this isn’t a problem

It’s a huge problem, and it needs help.

Insomnia

Insomnia is a beast society treats as a “issue.”

I can tell you as an Insomniac, that it is a brutal, punishing disease. And worse, it’s hard to treat.

Some drugs work for others. Other drugs don’t work. Some drugs work TOO well (Surprise, you’re unconscious for 12 hours, and fuck all will wake you up.)

Meanwhile.. I have been dragging on, on my seventh day, with three hours sleep, and had someone say to me “I wish I was an Insomniac.”

I briefly considered murder.

I’m not proud of that. But Insomnia is unbelievably brutal. I literally would not wish it upon my worst enemy. You devolve. Your brain links stop working. Slowly you become more an animal. Slowly, attack becomes the plan. Slowly, weakness becomes a threat shown. You know you are weak, animalistically, and that means to defend yourself, you must show overpowering might. Or die.

Or at least that’s what our genes tell us. I have managed to work with severe insomnia. This literally took all of my effort.

I was not a kind person when pushed past the edge of sanity. I was never violent, but I was never nice. I never backed down. And everything was a fight.

I’m not proud of this. I generally am a very kind person. But when you don’t sleep for a month, your brain shorts into survival mode- and at that point, you aren’t a person.

You’re a thing in the way of me sleeping.

I still struggle with literally surrendering to fate for at least a few hours, since I grew up in a very violent place. I slept lightly, because I literally thought I’d be stabbed. And I wasn’t completely wrong. It is very hard for me to take things that… mean I will not know if someone breaks in and kills my cats in the next three hours.. and even worse, if my girlfriend tries to wake me, I won’t wake up.

But my choices are limited. I can take it and sleep… Or be a right bastard to everyone everywhere.

I should have taken it earlier. I’ve started taking it already, but I learned the hard way that taking it undiluted is bad. Very bad for me at least.

Worse though, than anything I said… People forget that Insomnia really is a thing, and that it PUNISHES people. It’s a real problem- whether it’s biochemical imbalance or psychological. Or both. This is not some joke- it is something that destroys lives, and relationships, for no good reason.

I was shocked when I looked for a support group, and realized it doesn’t exist. If you sleep normally, imagine being sleep deprived by a week or more- that is an insomniac’s LIFE. Day in and day out. A day sleep a week, maybe. Possibly two. Still, impossible to maintain.

Life isn’t easy.