Sunday, March 30, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 24 out on our own renting space

31 Days of Thanks Day 24 out on our own renting space

Once Michael and I started doing pottery we quickly outgrew our space and when it was time to renew our lease on Middle Street we decided we needed to move into our own space.

It was a little scary for us, our rent increased by ten fold and we would have to hire employees, yikes!!

I remember running into my friend Bruce on the street and told him what we were doing, he said "what if it doesn't work out?" I said "there is no plan B" and kept walking.

As it turned out we didn't need a plan B.

We started carrying other peoples work as well as our own. Our thought was build a business that we can sell someday when its time to retire. If it was only our work and we were no longer in the picture there would be nothing to sell.

Most of the other shops like ours took things on consignment, we started purchasing fine crafts from other professional artists. Just like most retail businesses do. That way we could control the quality of the work we carried.

When we started looking for a new space we were thinking about buying. At the time real estate in our Downtown was not a good bet according to the banks we talked to. (boy things have changed!) They said the properties were over priced. I heard about a space becoming available on Pollock Street. So called Lonnie and said I wanted to see it.

He said someone else was coming from Swansboro to look at it that afternoon. But he would show it to me. Michael was somewhere, don't remember where, and this was before cell phones. When I saw it I said right away, "we'll take it". He said he would rather rent to us because we had a track record, than the unknown people in Swansboro.

So we rented it in August but did not move until after Christmas. It gave us time to get enough art to fill it, to revamp it, and transition.

I felt like we were stepping off a cliff but it was a good move! We evolved and grew.

I always felt like that was one of our strengths, keep evolving and tweeking, while keeping our core the same.

Who am I thanking here? All the people who supported us and followed us around the corner!

- Jan Francoeur

Sunday, March 23, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 23 Clay Sculpture

31 Days of Thanks Day 23 Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

My friend and whimsical sculptor extraoridnairre Justine invited me to work with her one day. I found that I love sculpting!

I haven't had a lot of time to do it unfortunately so haven't come up with a consistent style but some day.....

Another person that encouraged me to do it is Steve Fabrico, he's the guy who did the big totem sculpture over by the Double Tree. We carry his work at Carolina Creations and I had the pleasure of going to his studio in NY and seeing how he works. Just to cement what I learned in my brain I made this sculpture which is at the corner of our driveway. Its about 5 feet tall.

Every person you work with contributes another piece to the puzzle.

I did this piece after watching Peter King work. He does amazing architectural pieces, fireplace surrounds, gates and more. This piece is quite large, 4 x 5' and hangs outside the door of our house.

And lastly I was inspired to start doing these wall hangings after seeing something on the internet. Unfortunately I can't say where it came from. I think it was on an interior design site so can't give anyone credit. Of course mine looks nothing like theirs but it got my wheels turning.

So thank you Justine, Steve, Peter and Unknown person!

-Jan Francoeur

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Paintings by Janet Dixon

We always thrilled when we get new work from our artists.

New Bern artist Janet Dixon has just brought in some great ones!

Janet has traditionally painted in watercolor but has been working in oils the past couple of years. She does a beautiful job in both!
Click on image for details - will open in a new window


Sunday, March 16, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 20 I Would Like to Help

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

One day while making tiles Michael said I'd like to help!

So he started helping me roll the tiles.

Then I said why don't you learn how to throw? He said I think I will.

So he took a class from Elizabeth Priddy then Steve Jepson, and off he went!

Our first series of functional pottery was fruits and vegetables, a spin off of the tiles.

I don't have many photos of that work, although I do still do it occasionally.

Michael would throw the pieces, I would decorate and glaze, Michael would load the kilns.

We started with one medium size kiln and now have 4!

Through the years our styles and themes have evolved.

Sometimes I hand build pieces and decorate them with New Bern themes. Our pieces have been awarded to dignitaries from Europe and Africa, mayors, aldermen, County commissioners and so on!

Sometimes gardens and a house are my theme. Earlier in this series I talked about my calligraphy, well it has really come in handy on our pottery too.

Some of the words I put on our pieces are my own words, some are famous quotes.

One day a customer named Martha said "My niece is getting married would you put their names and date on a piece? Ding!!  Since then I've personalized hundreds of pieces with bridal, anniversary, retirement, etc dates and names.

Again the inspiration and idea for these came from our customers, Martha and others, and my friend Cecelia.

- Jan Francoeur

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Handcrafted pottery by Leo and Karin Villaroman

It was a partnership of two individuals from both ends of the world that created this pottery.  In September of 1992 in a small apartment kitchen in Atlanta a potter's studio was born.  The wheel was inside the bedroom.  Karin would wake up early to pick leaves from the garden from which Leo would make moulds.  The base of the pots are rolled on a basket texture, then shapes are formed and thrown on the wheel. The pieces are all decorated with leaves or shells and sea life.  All the pottery is oven, dishwasher and food safe.

What a wonderful addition to our pottery collection. And with so many folks with beach houses we KNOW it is going to be a big hit.

For the details on each piece click here.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 22 How we developed our pottery business

31 Days of Thanks Day 22  Always getting ideas from our customers

I started making hand made tiles, after so many requests from our customers. I started working with spacers and a rolling pin so they would be the right thickness.

I rolled hundreds of tiles.

Here is one of the drawings I did that prompted people to start asking for tiles.

I would cut these apart, hand color and frame them individually.

And here of some of the tiles I have done from the drawing inspirations.

I designed this throw for the Arts Council that they sold as a fund raiser, I used those drawings to start doing tiles of buildings in our town.

You can see how one thing just leads to another!

I do a lot of commissioned tiles of peoples homes and each year I do tiles of all the homes on the home tour.

I LOVE working with clay!  There is so much you can do with it, sculpture, tiles, dinnerware, vases, on and on.

Now all I need it more time.

It all started with a few comments from friends and customers. Thank you for your ideas and encouragement.

- Jan Francoeur

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

March ArtWalk Features a Demo by Andree Richmond

We will feature sculptor Andree Richmond as our featured artist for ArtWalk Friday March 14. Andree will be demonstrating her sculpting technique from 5-8 pm.

Her hand modeled earthenware sculptures depict animalized human forms. Her surface decorations are built up through successive firings, similar to painting, using both matt and gloss glazes, stains and lusters. When glazes seem too restrictive to convey the subtle mood of some of the pieces, Andrese treats the sculpture as a canvas to paint with oils.
Her lifelong interest lies with animals. As a child she got an animal encyclopedia for Christmas which sparked her fascination. That interest has continued as she has observed different animals and experienced their personalities.

As subject matter she finds that animals tend to be less threatening than human forms and therefore they can be used to caricature human traits and personalities.

Andree attended S. Glamorgan Institution of Higher Education, Cardiff College of Art. and  Yeovil Technical College, Britain. She has shown her work across the country and her work is in many collection including Arizona State University Art Museum. Tempe, AZ, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Phoenix, AZ., Texas Children's Hospital. Houston, TX. and Stephane Janssen collection to name a few.

In addition to Andree’s demonstration the March ArtWalk will be the opening of Carolina Creations Annual Garden Show which includes paintings by gallery artists, garden art, garden stakes, bird houses and wind chimes. The Garden Show will run through April 30th.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 19 House and the beginning of our pottery odyssey

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

Another artist wandered into the gallery, we struck up a conversation, and became fast friends.

We had just purchased a side hall house in the historic district and we were there about 6 months when we met her. We'd been working hard and hadn't done much with it.

She came in and said "you wouldn't know an artist lived here!" Of course we had been living on a boat for 3 years and in a motor home for an additional year before that so had minimized out belongings and had things stored in Michigan so it took us a while to get everything in one place.

Her comment inspired us to start thinking about how we could put our mark on the house.

We started by just hanging our collection of art that we had gathered. Then started looking at each room.

I decided I wanted to make a backsplash for the kitchen but didn't remember much about my pottery class I took in college so started researching that.

I took a class at the City Recreation Center. Told the teacher I wanted to do tiles, she said you want to do China Painting, I said no I just want to learn how to work with underglazes. And so I did.

Who would have thunk where it would lead!!

I don't have a photo of the entire back splash but have these photos.

When we sold the house we were told that the backsplash made the sale. I have to admit by the time I got around to doing OUR backsplash I had done many for other people. You know what they say about the cobblers kids.

Our pottery odyssey will be continued!!

- Jan Francoeur