Thursday, November 29, 2018

Looking Back: Year in Review

Annual Photo Album

Every year before Christmas I made a photo album featuring photos of my daughter with family and friends. I've been doing this since 2011. I make the photo album online and order copies for our family, the grandparents, and the aunts and uncles. Making the album feels a bit like working out. I dislike starting but feel better after it's done. I do enjoy some parts of actually putting the album together, but the process is exhausting and often frustrating. The biggest stressor is always trying to make sure that all the family is represented equally.

7 years of photo albums

I don't remember to take photographs very often at family events and only one side of the extended family consistently does remember. So the photo album always has candid photos of our family, usually featuring cats, and a bunch of posed and candid photos taken by my Dad and brother, who remember to take photographs. This sometimes leaves a gaping hole where all the visits with the other side of the family should be. It stresses me out because it makes it look like I've excluded part of the family when really it's just down to who remembers to take out the camera.

Our big family project of the past few weeks--Legoland Yakima

Most years, with my family far away and my mother-in-law close by, we remember to take photos for the big event of traveling to see family and forget to take pictures the many times we visit with Grandma. This year Grandma moved away too, so maybe we'll remember to take enough photos of everyone for next year. I guess that's a silver lining.

There were an extraordinary amount of cat pictures this year.

This year, without any family in-state, we didn't do much for Thanksgiving, so I had time to start on the photo album early (usually I panic and start it right after the quarter ends). The first step is going through all my photos from the year (or since mid-December when I made the last album) and looking for the family pictures in amongst pictures of my work, my students work, and the cats. I was really surprised by what I saw when looking back at the photos from last year.

Busy Quarter

This quarter has felt exceedingly busy, busier than most quarters, for a variety of reasons that mostly matter only to me. I'm always busy, but this year the busy has been heavily focused on school-related stuff and I've spent very little time making my own work, doing shows, or even applying to or planning shows.

Also we're getting ready for the fall Clay Sale at YVC (November 29 from 11-7)

Whether the busy quarter is just a normal thing that is only noticeable in the moment, or whether this quarter is unusual, the feeling has been that I'm busier with my day-job than usual. I've felt like I'm working hard and still barely keeping up. When a break comes, like it did over Thanksgiving, it feels great to do very little.
I do have excellent support at YVC, our Program Assistant made this t-shirt that we'll be selling at clay say for $15.

During this summer, I felt strange and didn't even make work in my studio during most of August. This fall I have neglected this blog a bit, both because I feel like I spend too much time already on the computer doing grading, and because I haven't felt like I've done that much worth writing about. (Who really wants to hear about the nuts and bolts of my attempt to gamify my classes? Me!)

Last Year in Review

plates for my brother

When I looked back at my pictures from December, I was surprised to see how much I'd done last year. Actually, I was surprised at a how much I'd done from December through March. Last December I was finishing both a custom set of cat nesting dolls for my nephew AND a set of dishes for my brother and sister-in-law. How did I find the time to do that? 

nesting cats for my nephew

In January I had new work at a Nasty Woman exhibition at Yakima Maker Space and in February I had work at an Art as Activism show in Hood River. I also undertook a major studio clean-up project in January that I finally finished in May. Why did I have so much extra time?

planter commission for my aunt
In February and March I finished and shipped a commission of planter sculptures for my aunt. In February I also installed new work at Yakima Maker's Space and at the end of March I presented twice at NCECA! Also, though I haven't written about it, I did finals and finals grading at NCECA and the day I came back, then immediately spend my Spring "break" doing an on-campus ESCALA training before beginning both the Spring Quarter and my ESCALA project.

NCECA 2018
But it didn't even end there, I had work in yet another show in April at Boxx Gallery in Tieton, in May at  Gallery One in Ellensburg, and immediately after the quarter ended, I made two sets of new work for an Art a Day show in Hood River in August. Then I joined a new gallery in Yakima. And during this time made a bunch of demonstration videos for hand-buildingflipped my classes, our cat died and we adopted three more, and I made a set of 3D printed work for the YVC Viticulture program. I didn't make any work in August, in part, because I was exhausted (also, I wanted to do all this gamification and rewards for my online class).

Political Bulb from one of the installations last year
I'm exhausted even now. I guess I went full speed ahead through Winter break, through Spring break, and even skipped my usual "buffer week" in June. No wonder I haven't felt like doing anything this fall.

Best Friend at 20 years

Sunday, November 25, 2018

YVC Clay Sale

YVC's Clay Sale (Thursday, November 29)

YVC Clay Sale Poster (Fall 2018)

The annual pre-Christmas clay sale at Yakima Valley College is coming up this week! The sale will be held in the Palmer Martin Hall lobby (building 20) on Thursday, November 29 from 11am - 7pm. This is the first time we've run the sale all day and we're hoping it will be more accessible for both on-campus and off-campus shoppers.

Palmer Martin Hall

The clay sale features pottery and sculpture made by current and former YVC clay students and some work made by me, too. We take cash, check and credit cards and prices are always very reasonable. The proceeds from the sale go to purchasing equipment, supplies and tools for the clay studio and this year the proceeds will also help us pay for our hourly employee in the studio.

An old photo of work for the clay sale, colors and shapes are similar to what you might find this year.

The Joys of Having an Hourly Employee

I have to take a moment here to crow about how wonderful it is to have an hourly employee in the studio. During my 12 years at YVC, I've almost always had work study students, but the quality of work-study students can vary dramatically. Over the years, I've had four extremely talented, hard-working, and reliable work studies, but I've also had a number of work studies who've added to my work load by being unreliable, unable or unwilling to do certain tasks, or even disruptive in the studio. 

Our studio is enormous, come check it out on Thursday before or after the sale.

This year I was able to hire an hourly employee whose duties include regular studio maintenance and upkeep (just like the work studies), but this employee also is able to both train new work studies (it seems like we are constantly gaining and losing work study students throughout the year, so training might need to happen in August or November or March, when I have time and when I do not) and oversee what needs to be done and who can do it when.

Palmer Martin hallway, looking towards the lobby

My incredible hourly employee, Betty, has taken on the kind of organizational role that I didn't realize was lacking in the studio. There are a number of tasks that always need to be done in the studio (cleaning, laundry, cleaning, putting tools away, cleaning, and more cleaning) and there are a number of tasks that need to be done when there is time by someone trained in how to do them (recycling clay, mixing glazes, and restocking materials). There are also some tasks that need to happen some days and not others (loading or unloading kilns, emptying sinks, organizing supplies).  

our new t-shirt design (see the next section)

Betty understands the big picture and has taken responsibility for assigning the tasks on a day-to-day basis. She makes sure that all the work studies (I have three now) are trained in how to do the interesting tasks (like mixing clay and glaze) and makes sure that everyone gets a fair share of the boring or tedious tasks (cleaning everything, everyday). It has been incredible this quarter to come into a studio where the employees are always working on what they should be doing. I never walk in to see a mess and I never have to search for a work study to do the thing that should have already been done. I can check in with Betty once and assume it will be taken care of. We've gotten a lot more done done his quarter than we have in the past few years, and it is large part because I have an empowered organizer on the team.  Now we just need to make sure we can afford her all year.

Our studio, a fish eye view

I do have to say, this is not the first or only time I've had a studio with employees who are on task and getting things done without me having to remember to assign every little task, but it has been quite a while since I had a whole studio full of folks who were on task all the time.

YVC Clay T-Shirts

Besides keeping the work studies on track and making the studio run smoothly, my hourly employee has been helping get us get ready for the clay sale. Betty, as well as Les, my community helper, and some of my continuing students (in intermediate and advanced clay classes) and one of my work studies (who has taken a clay class before) have all been making and glazing work for the clay sale. Besides the usual assortment of cups, bowls, lidded jars, and strange beginner sculpture, we have made mugs, ornaments, planters (some with succulents already in) and hopefully a few yarn bowls (if we can get them done in time) specifically for this sale.

The text is a pun. A kiln is the "oven" in which we "cook" clay to make ceramics. Or, to put it another way, its the hottest piece of equipment in our studio. 
Additionally, this year, for the first time, we are selling YVC Clay T-shirts at the clay sale. They are each $15 and we have sizes S - 4XL. Gina, our talented and patient program assistant for Humanities created the imagery on the t-shirts and got them printed. Again, I am extremely lucky to have this help getting ready for the sale and keeping folks on task in the studio. I remember not so many years ago when I was in charge of everything to do with work studies and clay sale prep and-set up. Needless to say, we didn't have t-shirts or planters with succulents or a sale open 11-7 back then. It is much nicer to have help!