This is my 4th year volunteering at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival in the Empty Bowls booth for the Oregon Potter's Association. I work with other artists for four days filling up, selling, wrapping up and taking down thousands of pieces of glass and clay work donated by hundreds of clay and glass artists.
It's hot, dusty, loud and amazing.
Especially hot this year, when the temperatures in Portland ranged from 97-100 degrees with no rain in sight. The usual damp, green grass is now brown, dry and dirty. The music is always loud and wonderful.
But here's what's made me so glad this year.
I didn't realize that since 1993, the Oregon Potter's Association has raised over 300,000 dollars for the Oregon Food Bank. With every piece I wrapped up or donated, I helped feed someone in my own home town.
As I filled the shelves with donated pots to sell, I worked alongside my co-workers in clay. As a studio artist, my work days are usually surrounded by clay and me and my wheel. I love what I do, but sometimes, it would be great to have a few coworkers who where there to problem solve and bounce around ideas. I got to do that while sweating and working at the Blues Festival.
We talked about the perils of porcelain with its cracks and attachment issues. We shared favorite tools and tips. Traded Insider info on hunting down materials to make textures in clay. And that despite all our best efforts, some pieces just go sideways disappointing us in the end with glaze runs, unwanted color changes, cracks and breaks.
Laughing away the losses and getting past it.
As an artist, you do the work you love but sometimes, the bottom line means loss instead of profit. You work hard, spending time and money to create your art, but sometimes, it just doesn't sell right away. You worry and wonder and then, you lower your price or when the loss stings too much, you give your work away.
But here, today, a veteran artist shared her story of loss and redemption. She had a piece priced at $250 that she loved but after several shows and years of no sales, she decided she had to do something different. So the next show, she raised the price of her piece to $350. And what do you know? The piece sold. Sometimes it's waiting for the right person, but sometimes it takes you valuing your own work enough that makes the connection to the right person who values your work too.
Leaving everyday glad.
Looking at the glass and clay all around me I'm inspired. All the textures and colors and shapes and ideas from the whimsical to the functional lifted my spirit and give my heart some new art to love. I always like working the Blues Festival, but this year, even in 100 degree heat, I leave everyday feeling glad.