I’m up at the crack of dawn. I told myself to wake up at the first sign of light at the window last night . I realise that I’m awake and look to the window and there is the light starting to show through the edges of the curtain. I’m up and showered, dressed and out in the car just on 6 am. I want to get all the pottery open-day signs up at the village and along the road. I start on the main road, just opposite the level crossing into the village. I’m not attempting to snag any unsuspecting passing weekend travellers out here in the middle of no-where. People who are on a mission to somewhere else. No! That takes more signs than this and more warning time. If I were aiming to get the attention of random passing weekender traffic, I’d start the signs way back at the previous village, kilometres back, and put up several signs all along the way. Warning that there are only 5kms to go to the pottery, then 3 and 2 and 1. Then Finally, turn here for pottery at the crossing. But not today.
We are open as part of the Southern Highlands Arts Festival, Open Studios, Arts Trail. There has been plenty of advertising in all the usual forms. So today I am only aiming to direct the people who are looking for us using the excellent fold out map that has been widely distributed both in hard copy and electronically. This is a case of courtesy directions. I still have a lot to do today. We are never really completely ready for these things. There is always so much to do, we could easily go on for weeks cleaning up. We live in a kind of organised chaos, where we plan lots of things and make lists. We even make lists of the lists. But then something happens and we have to change plans to fix the problem. Everything else slips off the list until this urgent thing, whatever it is, gets done. We kind of lurch from crisis to crisis in a semi-ordered fashion.
We are still sorting the last few boxes of pots and final pricing when the first of the early visitors arrive. I still have a few pots that need to have their bases ground, a few more things to sort out. I flip a piece of filter cloth over the pile of boxes and welcome our guests. The weekend has started. We are busy all day with only a couple of short breaks when there is no one in the pottery. A time to try and snatch some lunch, but then another car arrives. We manage to get to eat our lunch in stages, taking turns. It’s pretty constantly busy. Last year was our best year ever on the Arts Trail. It was the tenth year. This 11th year is shaping up pretty well so far. I notice that the ‘kintsugi’ pots repaired with gold are pretty popular. Possibly because they are the same price and all the others, even though they sport a bit of bling. They are repaired ‘2nds’ after-all, Pots that have been repaired and upgraded or enhanced back to a 1st grade status through a lot of time, effort and skill. Plus the addition of real 24 carat gold! So it’s hard to charge more for them, even though they represent a lot of extra work.
I’ve noticed over the years that my better pieces, which tend to be more expensive, don’t sell very well from here at the studio. This is how galleries earn their living. It’s their job to know people with fine taste and specific knowledge about certain works. Some of these aesthetes are also well healed, so can afford to have developed fine taste. Others go without food to pay for their art ‘habit’. It takes all kinds. So this pottery open studio sale is just that. A chance to get to look inside a working potters studio and see what we make and how we do it. I spend a bit of time throughout the day showing visitors around the workshop and kiln shed. Explaining the processes that we use and how it differs from the norm. I have a serried rank of rock crushers and grinders, culminating in a large ball mill and drying bed area. This is necessary, because all my exhibition work is made, not from clay, like all other potters, but from ground up stones, gravels and ashes that I collect locally and process on site here. Added to this that all our work is wood fired. It gives the work a particular look and feel.
What we make isn’t unique, but it does have a particular character.
After all, they are just bowls, cups and plates!