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.

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

Some States Are in a State, Some of Our Rights Aren’t Right

I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but this kind of news bounces around my head and sometimes wants to get out.

Tampons and Maxi Pads Banned From Texas Senate (But Guns Are Cool)

Women are being forced to throw out tampons and maxi pads to enter the Senate gallery, which has been confirmed by DPS. That’s right: menstruating women are being denied entry to the Senate gallery unless they throw out their supplies.

Additionally, diabetics are asked to throw out their sugar packets.

However, people with concealed handgun licenses are allowed to bypass long lines to enter the Capitol itself through the expedited CHL entrance, and per a DPS officer, if a person has a CHL, they can take their gun into the gallery.

Hate crime: Woman, girlfriend beaten in South Austin

A man they knew from the neighborhood started following them… the woman’s masculine dress prompted anti-gay slurs, she said. The woman’s girlfriend, 25, told the men to stop, in vain, the woman said… he kept shouting slurs and daring the woman to fight, she said. “Tell your b—- to stop looking at me,” the man told the woman’s girlfriend, whom he knew from high school.

The woman said she did her best to ignore him but he kept following. Her girlfriend tried to reason with the man, asking him to leave the couple alone, the woman said.

But then a second man came up, cursing both of the women, and the first man took a swing and punched the woman, she said. The couple said they fought back and other men quickly joined in, dragging the women apart.

The couple struggled to get back together, pressed against a car as the beating continued and no one came by to help, the woman said. “I didn’t think we were going to make it out,” she said.

Finally, one of the men said the police were coming. The attackers, laughing, fled in one direction and the women went the other way. Both women had lost their shoes in the scramble, and someone had ripped one of the victim’s shirt off. The men stole their phones and cash.

Governors of Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin have all signed bills limiting access to abortion

The Texas bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks, and restrict when women can take abortion pills. It would also only allow abortions in surgical facilities, and require doctors to have admitting privileges at area hospitals. These provisions would likely close 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics because the cost of compliance would be too high.

Last week, as a part of the state budget, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich signed new abortion restrictions into law. Women in the state will now be required to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion, and an abortion clinic’s ability to transfer patients to public hospitals will be limited. It would also effectively defund Planned Parenthood and other family planning groups.

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker also signed a bill last week that would restrict abortions in his state, requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 minutes of their clinic.

Ohio Republicans protect boats, but not uteruses, from intrusive searches

The new law “eliminates these intrusive searches,” said Republican State Rep. Damschroder, the bill’s sponsor.

Because if there’s anything Ohio’s Republicans hate it’s “intrusive searches” – unless, of course, those searches are focused on women’s reproductive systems.

Scott Walker Quietly Signs Bill Requiring Ultrasounds For Wisconsin Abortions

Gov. Scott Walker quietly signed a contentious Republican bill Friday that would require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and ban doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing the procedures.

Arizona Republicans Propose Bill That Would Not Allow Atheists To Graduate High School

A group of Arizona politicians… have proposed a law (House Bill 2467) requiring public high school students to recite the following oath in order to graduate:
I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.

(I dislike the title of this article. I’m not an atheist, and it would be a hypocrite to say this oath too. It also wouldn’t prevent atheists from graduating. Instead, what it would do is make anyone who actually does believe in the Constitution of the United States and understand the Bill of Rights say something against their will because of their government’s law. It’s just sad.)

Supreme Court rules Drug Companies exempt from Lawsuits

…the US Supreme Court also made a ruling on lawsuits against drug companies for fraud, mislabeling, side effects and accidental death. From now on, 80 percent of all drugs are exempt from legal liability.

In a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s ruling and award for the victim of a pharmaceutical drug’s adverse reaction. According to the victim and the state courts, the drug caused a flesh-eating side effect that left the patient permanently disfigured over most of her body. The adverse reaction was hidden by the drug maker and later forced to be included on all warning labels. But the highest court in the land ruled that the victim had no legal grounds to sue the corporation because its drugs are exempt from lawsuits.

Besides the larger implications of this, I keep thinking about the poor woman who… what? Now has to pay back the money she was awarded for winning the first lawsuit? Presumably it’s already put towards living and medical expenses?

Breastfeeding Viewed as Potential Terrorist Activity by New York Country Club

…Remans began to discreetly breastfeed her daughter Luka at the table.

Neijens, first secretary of the Belgium Mission to the UN, told the New York Post that a female employee of the club quickly interrupted Roseline’s perfectly legal and proper feeding of her baby with this sharp rebuke:

“Please leave immediately, you are disturbing the members!”

When Neijens protested and said it would only take a few minutes, the female staffer insisted that Remans finish in the restroom.

Understandably incredulous at the blatant ignorance on display at such a high end establishment, Mr. Neijens inquired why a baby would be asked to have lunch in the restroom when adults are not.

The Greenburgh Police Department arrived minutes later with Detective Scott Harding apparently yelling, “Close the doors!” with two other diners ordered to leave the terrace…

The officer warned the couple that they were trespassing despite the fact that country club staff had given them specific permission to dine. He also said that some fearful members thought Mr. Neijens’ black backpack indicated they were terrorists.

Hollie McNish, Poet Shamed By Breastfeeding In Public, Has The Last Word (VIDEO)

I thought it was OK.
I could understand the reasons.
They said: there might be a man or nervous child seeing this small piece of flesh that they weren’t quite expecting.
So I whispered and tiptoed with nervous discretion.
But after 6 months of her life sat sitting on lids,
Sipping on milk, nostrils sniffing on piss,
Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers,
I wonder if these public loo feeds offend her,
‘Cause I’m getting tired of discretion and being polite.
My baby’s first sips are drown-drenched in shite…

The Silicon Age

I was born into a world that barely knew what computers were. Computers were magic, science far beyond the common man, but wielded by people writing fancy math to make complicated equations solved in seconds minutes.

At the time, no one realized the true potential of computing. No one realized that we would model entire planets, that we would rewire the world to sing the song of silicone.

I am a writer, a poet. And I speak code, and I see the song. I do not speak of the power of the Silicon age because I am a Silicon Child, a speaker of code and languages. I speak of it, because it is pervasive. Not understanding basic computer skills now is anathema. It has almost reached the point where it is pointless to list basic Windows and Office skills on your resume, because you should understand it.

The only reason it is still listed is because the generation ahead of me doesn’t quite get it. They either do not think it is important enough to learn, or think they can’t. Both are wrong.

I wield the power of software. If you’ve ever searched the internet, especially in the near past, you will know software is power. Software is knowledge.

Hardware wires it all together, but software makes it all talk. Hardware is getting everyone in the same room. Software is giving them a language.

Software is what makes all the pieces come together.

Silicon makes it possible.

Use the knowledge. Learn. Dream.

Because otherwise, people like me wasted our lives. We worked to make software give you more power. More knowledge. More than we ever had even dreamed of.

You have it now. Take it. And don’t just dream. Take it by the horns, and surpass us.

Cycle

Sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with me for how I feel about my job. I know I have a good job (better than any ‘regular’ job I’ve had) that is varied, I’m good at, and has many perks. I’d say it’s a million times better than the full time job I had before this one. The next one I land through working hard at this one will probably be even better. Still, I spend every day at it wishing I wasn’t here doing this.

Is it like this for all artists? Are we all doomed to feel like we’re not doing ‘real work’ when we’re doing something other than our art? I look at other people that are amazing and talented who have ‘regular jobs’ and consider their job their actual job and not just their day job. I can’t help but be a bit jealous. Also, I feel like their advice is always, “find a different job” as if the issue is this job I have, and working for another company or in a different position would make this feeling go away. I know at least some other artists ‘get it’, but I also feel like they’ve all either taken the leap into art full time or have found a better balance (or are closer to it).

I envy them, but I also don’t, because I know in most cases it comes at great sacrifice to some very basic things (money, healthcare, food, etc.). I try to think of all the people that have even less fulfilling jobs than me, or are having a hard time getting a job or one that pays enough to put towards their bills. I feel guilty for not being more satisfied with what I have, and I feel guilty for not doing ‘enough’ or ‘the right thing’ (whatever those are) to change things for the better with immediate results.

Every weekend I try my best to forget about this for two days, and every Monday, this feeling follows me out of bed and through every thing I do. I try to ignore the undertone of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and hopelessness enough to get through the work day, make it to my studio, and spend the small amount of time and energy left on what I feel is my real work.

I do it knowing it’s probably not enough to realize any of my goals. I try not to be sad. I hope that if I keep at it, all of the little bits of time I can spare will add up into great things and somehow get me out of this cycle.