Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How Commissions Happen

Have you ever wondered about the process of commissioning a piece of artwork?

Getting a 'custom made just for you' artwork is a very rewarding way to add to your art collection and brings a really special piece into your home. I do a lot of custom totem poles because people often have a specific place for a pole or want one created just for them. 

So how does it work? 

Meet and Agree on a Theme or Idea for the Pole


Usually we meet at my studio and look through my portfolio book ('Totems'- available on Etsy) so I can get a feel for what resonates with my clients. We look at shapes and colors, talk about the height and talk about any special things that should be in the pole. Often there is an animal or two requested.

We discuss where the pole will go - indoors or out? what's around it? and agree on a budget that works for everyone. By the end of the meeting we have a general agreement on what the pole will be.

 Send in Photos of Site or Pet Portrait


Next my client will send me photos of the place where the pole will go. Either the room in their house or the spot in the garden. If I can I like to see the site in person so I can get a good feel for the setting but photos work well too. 

If there is a pet portrait involved they send me photos of their pet. I do my best to capture the spirit of their dear friend with what I describe as a caricature of the animal.  

Down Payment to Start the Work


Once we are in agreement about the project a non-refundable down payment is made and work begins. I take a bit of time in the beginning to let everything percolate and then make some decisions about what to build. This is the place where we all take a leap of faith that, given the freedom to create something wonderful, amazing things will happen. 

Progress Photos along the Way


Once things get underway I send progress photos as the pole develops. The client always has the freedom to ask me to replace an element that doesn't suit them for any reason. That doesn't happen very often but in the end we all need to love the piece. 

Color Selection and Glazing 


Once all of the pieces are made and the pole is assembled I make the final color selections and begin the glazing process. A few more progress photos go out and before we know it the pole is finished and ready for its new home. All in all it is usually a 3 to 6 month process.

Pick-up and Installation  


After final approval the pole is numbered, taken apart and packed for travel. To see the installation process click here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I'd Like to Be...

With all of the preparations for our Progress Show of The Influence and Inspiration Project at The Pot Shop this Saturday, October 7th I've gotten behind on post my latest pieces. So just to give you another tempting preview of what you'll see this weekend... here's my latest.

Susan gave me this assemblage piece which came off of my mask (visit to see that pairing). In this piece I had the feeling of someone looking at me or some type of feeling of a reflection. I was also very taken with the octopus tendrils.

So, I decided to make an octopus looking in a mirror. The glaze came out looking really amazing and it might be my favorite piece so far in the series. 

I hope you can come this Saturday and see the show!
Please share this with your friends who will enjoy it and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Spires 

Remember the heart I gave to Susan? It was sunny and bright marigold orange. (Go back to the post called the I and I Project for a photo of the heart) Well, here's her response. She was struck by the patchwork quality of the piece so she went with that as her theme:

Susan said this was a difficult piece for her to work out but I found it inspiring. I saw it as a landscape that I wanted to explore. I ended up making a spiral pathway with spires that I envisioned walking through like a walking maze. 

Somehow though I still wasn't satisfied that I'd really gotten at the spirit of a journey into the mind that I was going for so I ended up making a bonus piece. Enjoy!

This was a real departure for me and it is exactly the type of thing I hope to have happening along the way with this project.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The Juggler

When I gave my little bear on wheels to Susan she spent some time thinking about what the bear was looking at. When she delivered this painting to me she said it represented a tree full of bees and twinkling lights...

What I see is not a Bee Tree but a crazy juggling bear. So I made The Juggler.

The next piece goes way off of the bear theme. Wait till you see what's coming!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Round 4 - Bee Tree 

I gave Susan this little bear on wheels which I saw peeking out of her painting. I was very curious to see what it would inspire her to do. She got interested in thinking about what the bear was looking at and came back with this Bee Tree.

It is amazing to see where this trading process takes us. We hope you can join us on October 7th at The Pot Shop for the Progress Showing of the project to date.

More of Round 4 trades next time around. 
Please feel free to leave a comment and to share this post.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gentle Eggs

As promised, we'll bring the second line of our project up to speed. I made my little 'fish' piece inspired by Susan's painting and here's what she made from that:

After spending some time looking at Susan's painting I was inspired by the movement in the spheres at the very top of the painting as well as the globe type pieces which she made with collaged map pieces. From these elements I decided to try making a sphere within a sphere. Then I would cut away part of the outer sphere to reveal the sphere inside. In choosing my glazes I wanted to have the outer 'shell' appear to be very strong and the inner sphere to appear fragile and egg-like. Here's the result!

Please feel free to leave a comment below and to pass along the post!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The I and I Project Round 2

After our first round of work inspired by each other's work, Susan and I traded projects again. We both got very excited by the first round so were curious to see where this would go next. Here's the result!

Line 1 

Originally I made the little bird sculpture from last post and Susan responded with this painting representing the feeling of a bird in a tree. Now it was my turn to respond to her painting. As I looked at it I saw a little bear in the lower right corner. It just seemed to want to come out of the painting so here's what I made.

Line 2:

We'll catch you up on this one next time around.

Line 3:

This line started with the sort of sun/sunflower piece I made and Susan responded with this bright and lively painting. As I looked at it I saw a heart shape coming through. I've made a lot of hearts in the past year as part of my 'Hearts Full of Love' fundraiser project so maybe I've got hearts on the brain. Anyway, I decided to made a freestanding heart based on what I saw in Susan's painting. Here's what I came up with:

Save the Date:

Mark your calendars for October 7th and come to our Progress Show of the whole project to date. It will be the first time Susan and I have seen the pieces all together. The show will be at my studio, The Pot Shop, in Philo, CA. We'll be holding talks / Q and A at 11 and 1 o'clock about the project.

The show is part of Mendocino County Celebrates American Craft Week. For a full listing of all the shows and events visit

Please feel free to leave a comment below and share the blog with anyone you think would enjoy following the project.