Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Living Life on My Terms

While I love working from home, making my own hours, being able to work when I want, though at times I find it is a struggle. In this economy, it seems that buying antiques and collectibles has become a very expensive luxury for many, myself included. So the terms of my life had started to change with the economy.

I had been toying with the idea of getting a job outside of the home for a few months. I had a applied at a few places with interviews and 2nd interviews to no avail.

In September, the terms changed again. I ended up buying a sweet horse by the name of Angel. And that was the additional boost I needed to find a job. Need to pay for her board, shoes and vetting. Then a friend mention house cleaning. At that point I said sure, though I never thought I would do it in my lifetime. So..

In October, I started another business, house cleaning. I do this 2 - 3 days a week. I’m finding I really like it, I have great clients and only work 4-5 hours on those days.

But I had to completely rearrange my days to include more barn time which is always a good thing. Though, I had to figure out when to list/photos/pack, clean, do bills, laundry, and find time for the rest of my family.

Everyday life doesn’t have enough hours in the day. There’s so much fun stuff to do and I try to do that more than anything. Life is too short to work ones self to the bone. I try to spend time with my husband, playing and training the dogs, I go to the barn 2-4 days a week most of the time, I started reading at night again, and I work on my listings both on eBay ( Three Rivers Finds eBay auctions ) and my website ( Pittsburgh Three Rivers Finds ). All of these terms are a must in my life to keep me relaxed most of the time.

While we are not rich financially, we are rich in other ways, we have unconditional love for each other and our animals love us, we have some good friends, and great family members. Without kids or a lot of friends that can’t do a lot of things with us together or individually, we end up spending a lot of time together. He definitely keeps me laughing! And I find that is the best parts of my life, that we like each other enough to spend a lot of time together.

While I don’t want to live with any regrets, but I make myself a list every week of what I want to accomplish. I’m finding that it’s making things easier and leaves room for the fun stuff I want to do.

So this is how I’m living my life right now, on my own terms, it seems to working.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Studio Pottery

What does that term mean? It means, modern artists that either work alone or in small groups making many one of kind pieces or pieces in small quantities of art using clay as a medium. They are not mass producing pieces.

Many artists produce pieces that are functional include tableware, cookware, and vases, just to name a few. While some are starting to create some non-functional pieces, like whimsical pieces and sculptural pieces.

I don’t want to get into the history of pottery, that might be another blog, I do want to mention that pottery has been a big part of our country through the 1800s-1900s. But faded some in the early part of the 20th century. There have been all sorts of pottery companies though the years, most of the big ones like Roseville, Hull, Weller, were factories and produced hundreds or thousands of pieces. There were some studio potters during those time but the modern artist have so much talent that I feel they need to be given some kudos.

I’ll admit, I’m a glassie at heart but I do love great studio pottery. And hanging out on eBay and the internet for so many years I’ve discovered some great artists. I hope to someday have their pieces adorn my home. So for now, I will be focusing on about 3 or 4 of my favorite artists. So lets get started!

William Blakely
“Willie began making pottery at the age of 8 with the help and guidance of his Grandfather, well known Northern California Potter, and College Ceramics & Art Instructor, Mike Selfridge. Together they have built and fired, Raku kilns, several different Gas Fired Stoneware kilns, a Salt kiln, and after two years of work, have just completed construction of a Wood Fire Stoneware Kiln. Willie has also given workshops on Pottery making at a local Art Gallery.” Willie is now 19.

Willies’ work has taken on a life of its own on eBay. His Grandmother is a frequent contributor on the Pottery, Glass & Porcelain board and has so graciously introduced us to his lovely works. He has sold a few very nice pieces, including those shown here. We are all patiently awaiting his website that will happen after he returns from a mission trip this his church to Haiti.

He became a favorite of mine because I love his glazes and shapes. And my favorite part is that he is so young, it’s so nice to see a young person interested in the arts and not sitting in front of a video game. Search eBay for “Willie Blakely”.


Mary Pratt, Pratt Clay Studio
Mary has become a favorite of mine because use of realistic designs, use of animals, bugs, flowers and other items on white clay. Her website, Pratt Clay Studio, Reality in Detail, http://prattclaystudio.com/ states that she uses natural world around her. Mary works with white stoneware, using fresh, classic images, incised and sculpted with a contemporary twist. She calls it “Reality in Detail.”
While trying to research her and her background, I’ve only come up with a little bit of info, she’s been working in the field over 20 years, she either is or used to work at Ephraim Faience Pottery.

Freechild Studio
This studio consists of 2 potters, John Garland and Mary Paul, they collaborate on pieces along with working individually. They are based in North Carolina, “John and Mary create individual and collaborative clay works that are colorful, artistic and often whimsical.”

They have won numerous awards at art shows. They currently have shows this year.

Their pieces are functional and fun! Lots of details and colors. I think my favorite part of their pieces are the designs. The designs are hand drawn onto the piece, then “painted” on then fired. There is so much going on in their pieces that one needs to really look at the piece to see it all.

Check out their website for their complete work process and for their complete show schedule. http://www.freechildstudio.com/

And my absolute favorite right now is:

Mitchell Grafton
Mitchell has an absolute incredible imagination! He has been creating pottery for 17 years and in 2009 branched out on his own. He does not use molds in his designs now but did when he worked for others.

I was turned on to Mitchell’s work when someone on eBay’s Pottery, Glass & Porcelain board showed his work on our “Great Finishes” thread. It was this jug that was a tribute the BP Oil spill. I fell in love with his idea, his detail and choice of glazes. Then I found his blog and the other pieces he had pictured on it. And his pieces do so well on eBay, one of his latest sales was a thin necked vase of this raku colored cat with feathers sticking out of his mouth!

Then I found his Facebook page and his older pieces. His lamps are so classy looking but his new work is outstanding! Okay, I’m biased as I love detail! And his stories of the pieces are wonderful too! Like this one for the Train piece: "I'm getting too old for this." Those were the first words out of George's mouth when he woke up on the floor Saturday morning after another one of those wild nights in the city. He felt horrible and he was aching all over. It felt like a freight train was running through the middle of his head. He staggered to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and was shocked at what he saw......there actually was a freight train running through the middle of his head. Last night must have been a lot wilder than he had first thought.

Or this one for the oil spill jug: I decided to do a face jug that represents the sadness that I feel to see the beautiful emerald green waters that this area is known for and the amazing seafood that I have come to love being polluted by the greed of men, cutting costs and corners to make a larger profit. I recognize that our country runs on oil and it is needed to maintain the American way of life, my way of life. I also recognize that many jobs are created in the gulf oil industry. I'm just hoping that one day we find a better way.
And this funny one for the fist tank piece: I definitely think that there is a communication gap between men and women. For instance, last week was my girlfriend's birthday. Well ahead of time I asked her what she wanted and she told me that she had always wanted a fish tank. I thought that was an odd request but I wanted to make her happy so I made one for her. I thought it turned out pretty good but when I gave it to her she was a bit shocked and told me that she had wanted the kind with a real fish. I told her that would be tough because a real fish would probably die if it had a tank attached to it. She said "NO.... I wanted an aquarium." She really should have been more specific in the beginning.

Check out Mitchell’s blog: http://graftonpottery.blogspot.com/
And search for Mitchells’ pottery on eBay using Grafton Pottery!

Someday, I will own a piece of my 3 favorite potters! But in the mean time, I will enjoy they websites, blogs and auctions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Birth of My Website

Pittsburgh Three Rivers Finds was born due to my need to be able to have some control over my costs. But it has grown to a fun adventure that I am loving to learn about.

I have been selling antiques, collectibles and everything in between online for almost 12 years. I started out on eBay in December 1998. For almost 10 of those years we sold strictly on eBay. Though, when Meg Whitman left as CEO and John Donahoe entered as CEO, myself and many sellers have seen a huge drop in views of our products and especially sales. Along with fees steadily rising.

Last year I tried out Ruby Plaza for about year, while I did okay, it wasn’t what some others do on that site. Whether, I didn’t keep enough stock or didn’t pay to get seen, I don’t really know. Getting to the first few pages on that site was very tough. If my items made the monthly finds newsletters, I did okay. I was exclusive(not being able to sell on any other site that is fixed price) the first time around with Ruby Lane. Last year, I ended up closing my shop because things had slowed down. They had so many factors on getting your items high in the rankings, I couldn’t pin anything down to get my stuff seen.

This year I reopened and again was doing okay even though I wasn’t exclusive. I had also opened a store on eBay and on Bonanazle. Bonanzle for me as a bust, but the site if fun, so as a buyer I am always looking for stuff to buy. My eBay store was okay but I really wanted Ruby Lane to take off so I closed it and went back to exclusive. I also opened a Ruby Plaza shop in April. It is a Ruby Lane sister site and I wanted to get in as a flagship shop. In the 3 months I was on it, I had very little views and no sales. About the time of that the Ruby Plaza shop opened, Google changed an algorithm that they use to search, and all traffic to Ruby Lane & Plaza seemed to have slowed down. As I was not the only one that went months without a sale. My last sale on Ruby Lane was in April, I closed it June 29th.

But before deciding to close it, a couple of friends were talking about the one’s website. The other friend said she wanted to do it, I mentioned I did not think I could do a website. Well with a little information and my friend Donnah offering to help, I jumped in with both feet!

Hence, my website Pittsburgh Three Rivers Finds.

Donnah is basically my webmaster she does the real behind the scenes code changes and is my teacher. I use the Zencart software. First, I picked out my template, well, I did pick more than one, so I can probably change it up once in a while.

I’ve learned to use a FTP program so I do not have to use Photobucket.  I really must say I like this better! The only thing with this kind of program is that I had to rename all my photos, it was time consuming but fun.

So far I have 55 items, including some of my hand painted items(hoping to get added), added favorite sellers links, a photography site link for when my photography site gets done, our craft shows page, a favorite links page and I can add all kinds of stuff. Along with my Blog page.

Next I have been worrying about marketing it and getting it higher in Googles rankings, meaning getting the website on the first page! So Donnah has added the RSS feeds to the page. The more subscribers I get, it’s supposed to help the ranking, the more searches of my stuff on Google and clicked through on Google helps the ranking.

I’ve made business cards and am sending out postcards to past eBay and Ruby Lane customers for my “Grand Opening” with a 20% off coupon. I want to see how that goes and if it does well, I will do a few mailing through out the year or I will do email coupons.

We started working on it in June and had it live by the beginning of July. We are still tweaking it here and there. I will admit it has not been easy, so much to learn, it is time consuming, but it has been lot of fun learning it!   Come watch us grow!