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Broken ceramics – storytime


Can we talk broken ceramics?

Gather round, peeps. It’s time I share my mug story. As you know, I’ve been dabbling in painting ceramic bisque for a few years now. I would paint a mug here and there and thoroughly enjoyed it. With each stroke, I fantasized about being home alone in my studio with a table full of raw bisque, ready for me to have my way with it. Then I would sell the pieces at our local art fairs and who knows what that would lead to.

Well, that glorious day finally arrived. Patrick and I visited a local wholesale ceramics warehouse and bought all the supplies.

I’m an obsessive crafter.

When I have my mind set on a project, I don’t stop until it’s completed. I only had one night to paint these mugs and I made sure I met my deadline. Patrick too. We painted about 14 mugs total – here they are before we glazed them. We lovingly delivered them to the ceramics shop then counted down the hours until the kiln finished working its magic.

They came out beautiful!

We sold them for $24 each at our weekend event and not only did we sell out, but we took orders for more PLUS received a few orders from local coffeehouses and bookstores.

I became hooked on painting mugs.

My mind didn’t stop spinning with ideas! I could sell my mugs along with my novels at bookstores and coffeeshops! I would pitch my line of mugs to the lady at a giftware manufacturer who has been asking me for an idea for finished goods. These mugs were going to change our lives!

The next morning, Maya and I were right there as they opened the doors at the ceramic store.

I was on vacation from work, and planned to use my first day to paint more mugs for Spanish Market that weekend, our biggest show of the year! This is only half of what I purchased that morning. I was so excited, I downed a quad venti latte to add to my rush.

Here is Maya helping me base coat the goods.

She peaked by midnight, but my morning java worked overtime and I stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish another 14 mugs. These were even better than the previous set.
Taaa daaa…Here they are right before we delivered them to the ceramic warehouse for firing.

Now this is where the tragic part comes.

The mugs weren’t ready on Friday afternoon.
Hmm. Okay, we thought. We’ll just have to cut it close and set up our booth at the Heard Museum for Spanish Market early Saturday morning. Then Patrick would race to the ceramics place to get the mugs and bring them back so we could sell them. It all went as planned until he returned, empty handed.
 His expression? I’d seen it before.
Many years ago when our dog Shabba ran away.
“Oh no,” I said. “What happened?”
“Disaster! As soon as I got there,” Patrick explained, “the guy asked me to step to the back room. He showed me the kiln. All your mugs were in a mangled pile. He said a freak accident happened – the shelf broke in half, all the mugs fell over and got stuck together.”

“WHAT?” I whisper-shouted. Total disbelief.

I marched to our truck in the parking lot. I had to see it for myself. All those hours of painting, for nothing?

There on the backseat was a big box filled with crumpled newspaper. I took a deep breath and carefully unwrapped each mug one-by-one to find every. single. one. had a at least two chips, dings,or cracks. Some of them were even stuck together like Siamese twins.

Not a single mug could be saved.

I called the ceramics place and they apologized and offered to give me replacement mugs and free firing. It truly was a freak accident and I got over it pretty quick.

And then I met a glass artist there at Spanish Market and he told me that he says, “Drop your glass? Make jewelry!”

We all have our stories of crafty heartache, right?

It makes us tougher. This experience made me realize to always expect the unexpected, be ready for “the look.” Sometimes the craftastrophes are out of our control. We can throw a fit and give up or find a silver lining and work with it. If you truly love to create art and crafts, you’ll find a way to spin it and make it work. That’s how I feel anyway.

 *Falls to knees, wails, and pounds the ground with fist*

I’m not going to let this little mishap get me down.

I have all these mugs to paint, plus the new ones. I ready to rock! I’ve already been working on sketches! As far as the chipped mugs, sure I’ll try to paint and glaze to save some of them, but as far as the rest – this is what I’m thinking:

Now it’s your turn – have you ever had a perfect project crash and burn out of your control? Share your story, we’re all in this together!

Broken ceramics – it’s the metaphoe that counts!

My kids flew the coop & I grew a set of wings

Tortilla warmers, Amiga Angels, and more!


5 thoughts on “Broken ceramics – storytime”

  1. I admire your positive attitude!!! As a scrapper I have had many, many, many mishaps. Fortunately, oppsies can be covered with glitter, flowers, or any other embellishment. Thanks for sharing yours story.

  2. I have a mug story that my hubby doesn’t like me to re-tell. I attended your travel mug workshop at The Craft Retreat maybe 3 years ago and created a very unique mug I was proud of.
    I had it maybe for a week. My hubby (as sweet as he thoughtful) did the dishes one evening and accidentally broke my mug! I have since recovered and earlier this year on a trip back to the Craft Retreat was able to make another one.
    (Knock on wood)This one has stayed clear of disaster. : )

  3. I sure do! One of my most popular art quilts, “Welcome Home” (skelekitty rubbing skeleton legs) was a near miss! Just as I was doing the final pressing, my iron spurted some water/steam and the red silk I used for the shoes bled onto the white silk of the skeleton’s leg. I turned everything off and walked away until the next day, when I realized I could turn the red smudge into a heart tattoo – and that tattoo is almost everyone’s favorite detail on that piece!

  4. Oh no!!! My heart broke when I read freak accident. How crazy! I also admire your positive attitude I let things get the best of me sometimes. I am so happy to have met you and to hear your journey from you. You give me hope. I know now that it takes just a little confidence to make things happen you are proof of following your heart! Yay for mosaic planters!!!! BTW will your mugs be available for purchase online sometime?

  5. Okay, this wasn’t with mugs, but several years ago, I had made a wonderful clay sculpture in a college class, then raku glazed and fired it. IT WAS GORGEOUS. Unfortunately, a visiting ‘expert’ to the collge decided to ‘improve’ my work, and while he was doing so–the sculpture just shattered in his hnds. To my credit, I didn’t kill him, but i was so upset for a while. I like your attitude much more. Love your work!
    Bible babe


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