Virginia Clay Festival

In 2015, the Artisans Center of Virginia held it’s bi-annual conference, and on the opening day, they held a meeting of juried artisans and other interested folks to discuss the trail systems, Open Door Tours and other related issues that they promote and to share ideas about how things work. As per usual, when I attend a retreat or a conference or meeting, I will take one of my own mugs to use while there instead of drinking out of styrofoam or disposable cups. A gentleman sitting at my table asked where I got my mug and when I told him I had made it, he proceeded to tell me that he was Alan Yost and was the tourism director in Greene County and that they were planning to start a Clay Festival and would I consider being part of the event. I said absolutely. Little did I know what a wonderful event I was signing up for.

The Virginia Clay Festival has been happening now for 4 years and I can’t say enough great things about this show. As an artisan, you can expect to work your butt off getting wares or products ready for a show, pack said work into crates, load it all into your vehicle and then go, onsite, and set it all up. Shows are set up in a way that you are assigned a space and you go find the space and set your work up. You sit there during the event and make sales and hope you can make enough to cover the rent of your space. Shows can range in price, depending on the quality of the show or the reputation of the show. A show in DC can run $1200 for two days while a local small town show or vineyard can be $75. Juried shows are the only shows I will do now. If the show is not juried you end up beside someone that is selling something that you wouldn’t purchase for yourself and it feels that your work is diminished if you have to listen to someone selling birdhouses made from beer cans during the whole event. And sometimes you feel that you are paying the entry fee in order to make someone else money and not bring home a profit.

But the Virginia Clay Festival is very different. These guys make the potters feel like we are the show. That CLAY is the show. And they help you get all your “stuff” into the facility allowing you to focus on the setup. And they feed us pizza while we set up and some of the musicians are playing their Irish music for us as well so it really makes the work feel fun. Greene County Tourism has partnered with a lot of folks who are taking the time to care for and help the artisans in this way.

The first year there were about 23 potters from all over the state of Virginia who were juried into this show. Quality work. All of them. And I felt honored to be a part of this show because I have only been a full time potter since 2011. This year, there were 34 clay artisans. Below is just a sampling of some of the work of the artisans. Each artist has a unique style and their booth reflects the works, in many cases, taking on the same characteristic of the pottery. And it isn’t all mugs and bowls, there are lamps, jewelry and sculptural whimsical pieces.

The show combines Irish music with clay demos by the potters, a children’s clay area along with a Raku demo and firing happening outside. Last year they added a couple of food trucks to the mix. But, the details of providing a hospitality room with food, brought in by volunteers for the artists, and host families for the artists, which allows us to not have to pay for lodging while there, and then they provide us a wonderful home cooked meal on Saturday evening. This year it was held at Julie and Scott Winslow’s home which was a very scenic location where we can relax and rest and socialize with each other is just amazing. As a side, there was a wedding going on in their barn while we were having dinner….

And to remind our customers to come back next year, the staff provided us with a can of pencils, with the theme of this year’s event on the can, as if it were a can of fresh food, to give out with next year’s date of 2019 on the pencil. How fun is that? Mark your calendars now for this fun event next September around the weekend of the 21st & 22nd, 2019. And I hope to see you there.

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2015 Holiday Open Studio Tour


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2015 Holiday Open Studio Tour will have 5 Locations


We are so excited this year to have added two potters to our Holiday Open Studio Tour for a total of 5 different locations where you can shop and visit with the artists. Barbarah Robertson and Chickadee’s Artist Gallery and Pottery Shop have agreed to be a part of this annual event and are helping to round out a county wide tour.

bea20ee7f37bc764fccaf24ea114cf56At the northern end of Shenandoah County, Liz Ashe-Hollingsworth with be showing and selling her lovely Earth Spirit Masks. “Magical one of a kind clay sculptures depicting nature spirits, faeries and animals enhanced with found natural objects.” You truly have to see these items in person to see just how awesome they are and the work that goes into these to make them so wonderful and magical.

Then in Strasburg, Barbarah Robertson, a juried artisan with the Artisan Center of Virginia, will be set up in Pot Town OrgaBeeMug1abnics, an O Shenandoah Artisan Trail Site. Barbarah will be showing and selling her functional kitchen and tableware meant for day to day use, as well as a line of whimsical garden & gift items. You can also get a look at the new shop Pot Town Organics, an organic nursery and gar
dening store.  Selling organic gardening supplies, lights, hydropoics, tools and more!  A fun place to visit if you enjoy gardening and food preparation. What a great combo to find handmade and organic items.

rabbit with Thistle-1Laughing Orange Studio is in the middle of the county, in Tom’s Brook where I have a few new items and the usual rabbit items and fairy garden items. I have been working on some cupcake cups, some cookie jars and the trays and mugs that I usually have on hand. A new outhouse design for the fairy garden or a wheel barrow or even a fairy ring might be just the thing for the fairy gardener in your life or on your list.
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Then, as you travel south to Woodstock, you can stop in at Kary Haun Studio where Kary will have her gorgeous porcelain work. Kary’s specialty items are ceramic drip coffee pots, drip tea mugs,
wine cups and more. Her glazes and nature inspired designs add to the elegance of the porcelain and it makes having a cup of coffee or a snack an experience rather than an everyday occurrence. 

11403211_969582256426829_1482607633049800930_nOur southern most site will be the new pottery in New Market called Chickadee’s Artist Gallery and Pottery Shop. Chris and George Jetter are the owners of this lovely Local Artist Gallery and Pottery Shop. The shop offers a wide variety of locally crafted items such as Pottery, Quilts, Blown Glass, Glass beads, Soy Candles, Digital and Film Photography, and much more! All pottery sold from Chickadees is created on site! You can even get a behind the scenes look at the craft of pottery by attending a live demonstration from George himself!

Postcards are going in the mail this week but be sure and mark your calendar if you are only on this newsletter list so that you come to this special event and take home some items for the holiday season to use during your own celebrations or to shop for that special person that is so hard to buy for.

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Be sure to follow the Holiday Open Studio Tour on Facebook because each of the five artists will be posting the progress of the work that we are preparing for this event and you will enjoy watching from there.

 

 

 

Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter’s Empty Bowl Supper

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This annual event will be held on Friday November 20th from 5:30-7:30 at the Central High School Cafeteria, in Woodstock, VA. This will be the fourth year that I have donated bowls. I love doing this because I know that it is for a great cause. Food is something that many of us take for granted and I know that there are plenty of folks out there that aren’t getting enough to eat. The Alliance for Shelter helps many of those who are in need in many ways.

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For the first time this year, you can purchase your tickets on-line by visiting their website at www.allianceforshelter.org and clicking on Empty Bowl Soup Supper.
Tickets can also be purchased at Woodstock Cafe in Woodstock, Sager Real Estate in Strasburg, Edinburg Mill in Edinburg, and Community Store in Basye, or reserve your tickets by calling Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter at 540-459-3212 or 540-459-8395. Tickets are limited to 300, so reserve your tickets early.
Tickets went on sale October 1, 2015.

I have pledged 30 bowls this year. Each bowl will have my signature frogs on them full of their personality, and a little of mine, hopefully!IMG_20151016_153625458

Also this year, I have had help with making my bowls and I would like to give a shout out to Kara Bowman and Ali Carithers and Patricia Wolfe for their help with adding glazes to the bowls, trying their hands at making a few of the frogs and to learning how much goes into making the bowls for the dinner. I love making these and these ladies all understand the importance of doing something for the community. I’d like to thank them for their help and also for the fun we shared doing the bowls.


 

Tang, the Laughing Orange Studio mascot…

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Tang continues to make me smile as I work in my studio daily. She can be grumpy somedays, curious most days and sleepy when she gets warm. When you come to the studio to see me or my work, stop in and see how soft she is and how much fun it is to have a rabbit as a pet and inspiration.


LOS at Va Clay FestivalThank you to all that have helped in my
new endeavors, the last 20 or so months of grief and have given encouragement to me, I have a wonderful set of friends and followers and I am grateful to you all,

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Don’t Forget to follow Laughing Orange on Facebook
and the Holiday Studio Tour  to see the fun as it is being created.

 

BFF(Baby’s First Frog) Bowls

Last year, Herb had me make some of his teacher friends, who were expecting, a baby’s first bowl as a special gift for their new baby. I had a lot of fun with them and sold all of them as they were a huge hit. So, I decided to have a few of them on hand for the Holiday Open House on Sunday and so I am sharing those with you today. They are really small but really sweet and as the child grows, they can begin as a bowl for cereal and applesauce and evolve into a snack bowl for cheerios or m&ms and raisins or peanuts. I have six of them. We will see how they are received.

Coupons, Gift Cards and Deals

Etsy just sent me an email stating that they would be offering an Etsy Gift Card this year. While I think there are many positives for the handmade site and the movement to get more involved with buying handmade, I don’t really know that this will help MY sales, per se’.

Gift cards will be the perfect present for the Etsy-obsessed shopper in your life, but even more importantly they’ll be a way for us to introduce new buyers to Etsy. Our community of buyers has grown incredibly in the past year, which can be attributed largely to people like you spreading the word and marketing your shops. Gift cards will allow us to be more aggressive in our own marketing efforts by distributing gift cards to partners and creating promotional offers.

If I am reading it correct, someone could purchase an Etsy gift card for someone for a gift for Christmas, then that person goes onto the Etsy site and shops for an item to use the gift card by entering in a code. That would be when Etsy would send me the money for the purchase, if that person shops at Laughing Orange. I am thinking that I will be looking into offering my previous customers a coupon code that they can key in at checkout for a discount on a purchase. This is a way to thank my loyal customers and to bring in money to my shop instead of someone else’s shop. However, I do think growing the handmade movement will help all artists and craftsmen.

I’m trying to think of all the things to get done now before the holidays come around and I am scrambling trying to “make” things rather than have to worry with the online part of my business. One thing that I think will be helpful to add to my Etsy shop will be a “calendar of final purchase date” so that the customer will

Holiday deadlines

know how much time they are going to give me to make their item and still ship it to arrive before Santa comes. I think I am going to do a screen capture of a calendar and where I am allowed to add five photos of the item for sale, add in the calendar with the ship date on it as a reminder to them.

I need to look ahead to when to put the coupon codes into an email to send around to my base of customers so they have plenty of time to use it for the holidays. Having a black friday online might be fun so I would need to plan to have the email blast go out around the first week of November.

I also think that in planning for the holidays it would be fun to “decorate my shop” with some fun holiday images.Maybe the frog that is in the header of the logo will be wearing a Halloween costume, a pilgrim hat and a Santa hat. Want to send me ideas that you might think would be fun to see him wear?

 

In the past when I have received gift cards, I usually either worry that it won’t work when I get to the check out at the store or that I’ll forget that I have it. I am not one of those people that goes to the web and looks for deals before I go out shopping, however, if times get leaner, I may have to start. I have gone looking for coupon codes that I could enter at checkout online. Some work and some don’t. Some want you to give them information which only fills up your inbox with spam. That has been a deterrent in the past for me.

So as we get closer to the holidays and I start building inventory, if there is an item that you are thinking ahead as a gift for a relative or a favorite person in your life. Be sure and get me the information early so that I have plenty of time to get it to you. I’m not a planner either, but I may have to start focusing on a calendar in the future. I suppose Google Calendar is going to be my new friend.