wing+tree

handcrafted decoupage glass trays featuring original art & inspirational messages

Work

My Studio. My Place. My Crib.

Sheree Burlington6 Comments

Hey, I thought I would show you all where I spend my days. And many of my nights. Welcome to the third and hopefully, final home of Museware Pottery. There are many wonderful things about our new home but at the top of the list is the fact that it is heated. This winter - 70. Last winter - most days around 50.

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This is our main production table. It's where my production manager, Nicole, spends most of her time. She's a machine and has turned the art of hand painted pottery into a science. She loves her job and tells me she'd come here even if I didn't pay her. Her Mantra: Don't be jealous of my skillz. See that big tree in the background? His name is Benjamin. I named him back in the day when I was reading The Secret Life of Plants and having regular conversationswith him. Oh, and sleeping under a pyramid. I bought him in 1975 and placed him on a doily on my coffee table. It's hard for me to imagine my ever owning a doily.

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This is our "kitchen." We call it that because itincludes a refrigerator and microwave but very little cooking takes place in it. The water that flows from the faucet smells slightly swampy and always makes us think one of us farted. 

The shelves on the left house my collection of mosaic glass - the remnants of an earlier creative obsession. Seven years ago, no surface was safe around me. I couldn't look at a piece of pottery without imagining it in pieces. One bottle contains the remains of a hideous bull fighter figurine found at a flea market. When the guy who sold it started to wrap it, I told him not to bother - I planned smash it. He looked stricken, like I was about to destroy a rare artifact. Because $3 can buy a thing of historic value.

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This area is is behind the production table and is where we keep our tools, paint supplies and working bisque. See that tool chest? It was a Christmas gift to myself two years ago. $250 for the entire thing. At Sears. It's a Craftsman. Three pieces. Ball bearing drawer slides. That noise is the sound of me beating my chest. Men gaze at it with complete envy. Don't ya just hate it when all they care about is your chest?

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Now this is where the magic happens. This is my workspace. The table is 5' x8' and full of junk. My actual work area consists of a small area in front of my chair. I usually blame the mess on a lack of storage. Total crap. Give me a warehouse and I'd still have junk on my table. Before having my son 15+ years ago, I was compulsively neat. My house looked like a magazine. I am apparently healed.

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Our kiln room is efficiency expert Lara's domain. Lara is wicked organized - she's been with us - wow - 8 months and I haven't once had to organize her kiln carts. You've got to know I just issued a huge compliment. No one can touch me in kiln cart organization. Don't be jealous of my skillz. This room is exactly large enough to house three kilns. One foot less and it wouldn't have worked. As long as she stays tiny, she won't have to worry about brushing her cheeks against 1835* stainless steel. When we run all three kilns along with the room vent, the temperature only gets to 90*. That's a lot cooler than the 115* we've suffered in the past. While I have not seen how heat effects Lara's temperament, I can tell you it turns me into a biting, evil shrew.

Thanks for stopping by.

New York, Yew Nork

Sheree Burlington5 Comments

Last week I spent a week in New York. Because enough hasn't been written about the Big A, The City That Never Sleeps, I'm compelled to add my take: There are a shit load of people in NY. From my room on the 21st floor, on 34th and 8th, I could look down upon enough tiny people to populate my entire town. Most of them were walking.

Unless being led around by their dogs, people in my world walk under these circumstances: 1. Dead car. 2. No car. 3. No license. While there may be exceptions - those who trudge through snow up to their knees along unplowed terrain because they want to, these people are generally crazy and should be avoided. If you get too close, they may ask you to join them. My best friend Janet, falls into this category.

My trip into The City was flawless. I hit the road at 7:15 and arrived in NY State at 11:30. Drove right past my hotel on the way to the Javits. Pulled into the Javits Center and right into a parking spot. After dropping off my load, I asked one of New York's finest for directions. He was pleased to tell me that I look just like Lauren Holly. I had no idea who she was (it's lonely under my rock) but since it's rare for someone to say that you look just like some dog, I received his compliment in a most charming way. When I arrived at my hotel, there was a parking space out front. I handed my keys to some guy and watched it drive away.

I won't bore you with show details. The best part about it was the great company in my booth - Larry of Clay Design and Victoria of Dream Fabric Printing. All three of us are pretty much non-stop talkers. Sometimes we actually listened to one another. They were great company and I can't wait to see them again in August.

As planned, I had dinner at Chez Veasey, home of the wicked famous LorrieVeasey and Sexyhusbandomine. Here is the real scoop on the Veasey family: Sexyhusbandomine = Hunk. And he fed the kids and did the dishes while we talked. He should host a husband/boyfriend bootcamp. I'd immediately sign up Ireland. Oh, and those cute kids she blogs about? Seriously cute. And polite. We may think Lorrie walks on water, but she's a regular gal like the rest of us. I hugged her and those Beautiful Berthas moved right out of the way just like regular, non-famous boobage.

Cut to the last day of the trip. I call for my car - which sounds almost as cool as my agent. Two hours later, I'm still waiting. I'm beginning to wonder if the guy in front of the hotel drove it to Jersey and cut it into tiny pieces. Eventually it shows up. Whew. I'm not an idiot. I drive to the Javits and find it in absolute grid lock. No way to get anywhere near it. I drive around the block and approach it from a new angle. Not happening. As I prepare to make another 1/2 hour pass around the block, my gas light comes on. I see a entrance to the parking lot. I don't wonder why no one else is taking advantage of this clear passage. I just drive right in.

"License and registration, please." Do I know what I just did, he asks? I just ignored a Do Not Enter sign. (Ok, I am an idiot.) As I reach for my papers, I hear him say "Hey, you're the one who looks just like Lauren Holly." I flash him my most convincing LH smile. I still don't know who she is. That's ok, he says. Why don't you just back right into that space over there.

I heart New York.

B is for Bitch

Sheree Burlington9 Comments

I have not been on my best behavior lately. My world is full of people to whom I owe apologies. I also have a list of valid excuses. The thing is that I have had excuses to be bitchy for decades and yet somehow managed to avoid pissing off everyone who crossed my path. Years of being surrounded by idiots has worn me out & I'm just not that good at pretending any more. These are the people I have yelled at this week:

1) The idiot at Wendy's drive up. Here's my take on drive up - it's not fricken rocket science. One plain HAMburger, a SMALL fry and a small DIET. Take it off the warming rack. Put it in a bag. India graduates engineers by the thousands and we can't fill a drive-up order right. Notice my son sitting in the passenger seat. He's hiding his face in his hands and trying to look small.

2) The property manager at my building, for having 6 weeks to fit up my studio and not having a dead bolt installed on the door before we moved in. Our building is burglar friendly. The man is a friend of mine, but that does not stop me from reaming him a new one. After I'm done, I burst into tears. Fricken hysteric.

3) The idiots at Comcast. Three weeks after my cable install was scheduled & I still don't have cable. Ten (TEN!) phone calls later, I still don't have cable. Now that I've blasted everyone who could possibly make cable happen, how do you rate my chances of getting online in 2008?

4) My bisque suppliers. This is how it works. I place an order. You deliver it. I only order stuff I need. If I didn't need it, I wouldn't order it. So when I order three pints of black paint, it is not because I actually need LIME GREEN paint. And when you tell me you're sorry but you're really busy, I Don't Want To Hear It. I want black paint. Now. When I screw up, I jump through hoops to fix it, even if it costs me money. Send someone to the UPS store with 3 pints of black paint. Now.

Next week is Christmas and I'm feeling more charitable. I'll be more gentle with the next the Wendy's gal - the offender has most likely moved on to Taco Bell. I'll call Eric and tell him not to rush on the lock - I don't really have any thing of value in here anyway. I'll call my supplier and thank them for the Lizard Lime - black is just so over rated. Then finally, I'll tell Comcast to take their time -wandering around the halls searching for an unsecured wireless signal is almost as good as hitting the web button on my keyboard.

I See London. I See France.

Sheree Burlington8 Comments

I'm a professional mover. I've moved, hold on, I'm doing some math here...ok, I've moved my personal household nine times in the last decade. On December 15th, and for the second time in 6 months, we will move my studio. We won't go far. Two blocks east, back into the same mill building we left in July. You know. Before the banks failed and turned the world upside down? This lovely piece of real estate is the next new home of Museware Pottery.

I met the electrician there this morning. The giant fan and broken furniture are gone. There are actually two windows now. We can't open, reach or see out of either of them, but if we could, we'd have a lovely view of the roof. They've spray painted the whole place white. Even the dirt & exposed insulation have been painted white. White dirt looks just like brown & black dirt. Just whiter.

The window frames are now a festive green. Same with the door. There is a window in the door, which won't be a real problem until the weather turns warm. Next summer, the average interior temperature will be 110*. Three kilns firing up to 1835*, summer sun baking the exposed brick walls, heat waves dancing off of the streets. In an effort to ward off heat stroke, we will lock ourselves in and take it all off. We will work in our underpants. This is me. At work.

Fricken fine. It's not me. But as far as the 40 guys who work in our mill are concerned, this is what I look like under my clothes. Twenty pounds ago, they called me "the hot pottery lady on the third floor." Since most guys only see with one eye, I'm betting that when we return, they won't notice the weight. What they will notice are my two lovely assistants, Nicole and Lara. Nicole is out-there friendly and has this jug thing going on. The come out of the wood work when Nicole shows up. Lara is less conspicuously endowed, but so damned cute, they'll imagine jugs just the same. Me? I got jugs. I got a little bit of friendly. And I am the hot pottery lady.

We'll figure out the window thing when the time comes. Little will they know that behind that glass, Sheree, Nicole and now, Lara will be painting pottery. In our underpants. Sort of like casual Friday, only different.

June. July. August. September...

Sheree BurlingtonComment

09.21.08

Four months of silence. If anyone is actually reading this, you must be new to my work and this blog. Anyone else would have given up months ago. So, welcome to my blog. I knew when I started this that I was adding another thing to an already unsteady pile. I must have some subtle, self destruct mechanism running silently in the background. Sorry guys. This was also the first one to drop off the pile.

I've no wisdom to impart in this post. And, if I spend too much time editing the hell out of it, I'll never hit save and send it. Here's an off the cuff update:

We moved to a new location in early July. The move pretty much sucked. Our window of opportunity was narrow and construction was off schedule. It was tough on us and the landlord. But, we're in, the space is incredible and we're back in forward motion. We have three 7w x 10h windows overlooking the Merrimack River. South Western exposure. Huge trees dancing outside. Sun dappled river flowing by. Space to pull a pallet without moving everything out into the hall. Actual heat and AC.

High school started for my son. He's at a new high school and has left his middle school friends in another district. So far, so good. He actually says he kind of likes it. Says the teachers have relaxed and are not as strict. He did homework the other night without my having to force it. Very weird. Makes me think he's up to something. He got up at 5:45 the other morning and ran. And he keeps getting taller. Just over 6'right now.

I'm playing around in my head with a whole bunch of new holiday themed personalized designs. Of course, I'm a year behind schedule for upcoming holidays, so you won't see Halloween, thanksgiving or even Christmas stuff from me until next year. This is how it works: It rolls around in my head for a time, say a couple of months. Then, something starts keeping me awake or waking me up. Then I make bad sketches. Then I try it on a piece of tile. Then on a piece. Three days ago, I pulled out a piece of tile. Yesterday, I picked it up. Who knows what today will bring.

Hey, do ya think I need a new picture? Seriously, that one up there is 5 years old, and when I say I'm not as sweet as that picture suggests, I'm completely serious. Sweet just isn't one of my words. I'm more of a broad, but these days, in a more subdued way.

So right now, my hair is just above my shoulders and looks like a bush. Everyone keeps telling me it looks good, but when I look in the mirror, I see a 53 year old woman (who looks 51) with wicked fluffy hair and slightly crooked glasses. They're lying. And besides, it's time. I am a practically famous woman who really needs a new look. I used to wear it short and spike-ish and loved it, but people kept thinking I was a lesbian. I like boys, idiots that they are. Right now, I just look like someone's mom.

It's 11:15 on Sunday. I've met a friend for breakfast, answered a bunch of emails, broken up with my boyfriend, made some sketches and written this post. Now, I'm going to play with some new designs. I keep thinking about Halloween. I've never had a moment's interest in Halloween until I saw a skull on a glass somewhere.

See ya.

Waiting For My Grasshopper

Sheree BurlingtonComment

“Wow. That is cool. I would so  buy that if I saw it in a store.” It was a turkey platter – I’d spent hours on it, covering the entire surface with words of thanks and gratitude. It was cool. Once finished, I placed it on the drying rack and poured myself a cup of coffee. After two sips I was back at the rack, admiring my work.

It was 2005. I had spent the last three years in pursuit of my dream – owning a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio. The dream had taken flight and we ended up with three, opening a new studio every year. I was working my ass off.

Some weeks later, I was on my hands and knees, scraping chocolate cake off of the floor - remnants of a party of screeching 9 year old girls. Jillions of tiny black ants had materialized & were crawling around the mess with crazy purpose. As I sat on the cold floor with a butter knife in my hand, I thought about the turkey platter. I squashed a few ants. I made a decision.

A couple of years earlier, my business partner and I took a trip to New York to visit the studio of Lorrie Veasey; owner of Our Name is Mud. Lorrie was actively involved with CCSA – a professional organization that supports and educates owners & planners of PYOP studios. She also owned a large and growing finishware company and was selling her hand painted pottery to thousands of accounts all over the country. I told her of my dream to someday create my own line of finishware. “When you’re ready,” she said, “call me. I’ll walk you through it.”

Museware Pottery is in its third year. During its infancy, Lorrie & I exchanged many dozens of emails. I'm sure I was a complete pain. She reviewed my business plan & pricing structure; guided me through months of packing and shipping issues; warned me away from some costly big ideas; praised and encouraged my best efforts. She called it building good pottery Karma.

With her guidance, I've gone from painting at my kitchen table to a 1500 square foot studio. We need to double our space. Last year, business increased almost 300%. I'm working my ass off. I’m also waiting for my Grasshopper so that I can pass it on. If it weren’t for Lorrie’s generosity, I’d still be scraping chocolate cake off of the floors. Fricken ants.

Thanks, Mud Chick.

Another Way To Avoid Relaxing

Sheree BurlingtonComment

In an effort to fill up every second of my life with high maintenance people and things, I've decided that the few minutes each night that I spend relaxing and reading Scottish historical novels (The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon - incredible sex scenes) could be better spent. I also thought this could take the place of my long lost practice of daily journaling. Most of my life - every unedited detail - is recorded in dozens of cloth bound books hidden away in an old suitcase. I've instructed my mother not to read them until I've been dead for five years. Seriously dead for five years.

Next month, Nicole (my awesome painter/production manager/kiln room manager/shipper/receiver and occasional therapist) and I will take my line to The National Stationery Show in NYC. We'll pack up the truck and take the trip from Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire (pop. 110,000) to the Really Big City. Verra exciting (using my Scottish accent.) I plan on being the hit of the show and becoming Wicked Famous.

In an effort to look incredibly talented and earn the questionable title "artist" I've been on a three month long design binge. I've added a bunch of new stuff to my Baby Collection and am very pleased with the results. The above image is a preview of what we'll be showing. Using a combination of stamps designed by Christine Adolph & my own hand-carved stamps, the colors and shapes in this new collection just make me smile. I'm in love with the scroll stamp that's part of her Garden Melange Collection. Her work is featured prominently in my own. Watch for more of her great designs in my growing Valentine's Day collection.