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Mudslinger Pottery 2014 Newsletter
Written 01-06-2014

It’s time for my yearly reflection/newsletter.   I’m writing on both my 8th anniversary and the coldest day in close to 2 decades.  The window thermometer said -18.6 this morning as I woke.  The News stations were bragging that it was -25 or -23 with a wind-chill of -40 to -60.  When it gets that cold it really doesn’t matter what the number is. 

I’m looking forward to a better 2014, and I’m quite pleased that 2013 is now in the past.  I hope that this economy finally turns around.  The News Media keeps saying how wonderful Wall Street is doing but rarely run stories on how difficult it is for the average person that is trying to make ends meet.  I was just re-reading my 2013 Newsletter and I find myself still feeling many of the same thoughts.

(So is Mudslinger Pottery Established?  I don’t know.  I’m still here, even in this market.  I just bought a new calendar to hang on the wall to scribble in more names.  I look to the New Year ahead and think to myself, “WHAT THE HELL am I DOING!”  Where are those names going to come from?  Who will they be?  Where will they come from?  When will that big commission finally come in?  How am I going to be able to keep up with my responsibilities and expenses?   Sometimes I’ll suggest to people that, I’m helping them do something that they could never do on their own.  Well – I guess that, by Faith I’ll keep going, and He will keep helping me do something that I could never do on my own.  The POTTER, helping the potter, helping people to be a potter.)  I had copied it from the 2013 letter, which I had copied from the 2011 letter.

The ordeal that I was dealing with at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 was rather disturbing to me and didn’t help 2013 start off very well.  In a nut-shell, an old student that I hadn’t seen or heard from for nearly 2 years decided to sue me for $200.00 because I wouldn’t give him back $100 for studio time that he had already taken nearly 2 years before.  The judge was less than honest and fair and would not let me say my peace.  Must have been whatever he had for lunch.  I ended up having to pay $138.00.  Any of you that know me even a little would agree that I am a very sensitive, deep thinking and caring person.  This ordeal tested my Irish temper and self-control to my wits end.

On a positive note, according to my year-end records on Quick-Books, In the past 8 years I’ve taken just over 1700 people by the hands and have helped them create a piece of pottery out of clay.  It is very rewarding to me to be able to teach people time and time again that they can create something.  One amazing day happened this past July.  “Grammy S.” brought 3 of her grandchildren in for a GetAway Day in the Clay.  She has been bringing them here for a couple years now.  Well, I didn’t get the memo.  Two of them had been here before, but her 12 year old grandson had not.  They walked in and he is missing the lower half of his left arm.  I thought to myself, “well – I’ve never done this before – here we go.”  I am left-handed, so I thought I would try to make a pot using only my right hand during the demonstration so that I would know better how to teach him.  Half way through the demonstration he motions to his half arm and says, “I can use this!”  We did.  We made a pot together using his right hand and left arm.  While I was helping the other 2, he was happily content playing on the wheel.  Melted my heart.  She said, “I was going to tell you beforehand, but I knew you could do it.”

People often ask me if I do many Art-Fairs.  I do only a few Art Fair throughout the year, primarily because they are too expensive.  On average, Art Fairs cost about $225 just for the booth.  This does not include your time preparing, being there or the gas for your vehicle.  I usually try not to spend more them $50 or $60 so this limits the Fairs that I can attend. 

This last year I attended the St. Paul Art Crawl again in both the Spring and Fall; I believe this was our 6th or 7th year.  The Spring Crawl went well, but the Fall Crawl was a disaster.  The Art Crawl administration deleted my on-line application, but took my application fee.  I ended up in “the bowels of the Tilsner”, a large dark room that few people knew about or could even see.  In 3 days, I sold 1 pot for $30. 

In April I had a few of my things on display in the Art-Reach St Croix Gallery in Stillwater and that was a nice experience.  They are some really nice people and they do a great job promoting Art in the St. Croix Valley.

We attended the Chateau St. Croix Winery Spring Art Fair in June.  It’s a nice venue but it was over an hour drive and it rained. 

Every year we host “Camp Mudslinger” during the 4th of July Holiday.  Relatives often set up tents in the yard and the BBQ goes 2 or 3 days. We borrow a flat-bed trailer and decorate it for the parade that goes down the main street of Afton.  We always finish up with fireworks.  This last year they all went off without a hitch.  The year before I scared the crap out of a few people when I threw a fountain that I thought had already been burned into the fire pit.  That’s when it lit J  I still need to fix that chair that broke when someone was trying to escape the fountain flames shooting out of the firepit.

Byron and I have been doing that Washington County Fair now for at least 5 years, I’m losing track.  If it weren’t for all the flyers we hand out every year I’d be a little more discouraged.  After counting the entrance fee and sitting there for 5 days, I had a $4 profit, not including food and gas to get there and back.  I think I heard people say at least 500 times or more, “you do beautiful work, I hope you sell a lot.”  Funny thing is that I find myself saying the same thing to other Artists when I am at a Fair I’m not showing in.

We attended the 1st Annual River Falls Bacon Bash in early September.  Being a potter, we didn’t really have anything to do with bacon but we had fun people watching and I sold some pottery.

The last Fair that we do of the Summer is the Selby Ave. Jazz Fest.  It’s on the 2nd Saturday of September and I think it has been going on for 11 or 12 years.  We have done the last 5 years and both Byron and I just love it.  My goal is to sell enough pottery to eat food from the vendors all day and people watch.  I’m here to tell ya, aside from the Minnesota State Fair, the Jazz Fest has some of the best music, food and people watching anywhere.

I try to have a Holiday sale every year around Thanksgiving but have had relatively poor attendance results until this last year.  I pushed a little harder this year with emails and Face-Book and actually did okay.  The best sales results for any one sale all year have to go to my Holiday sale at Ultimissimo in Hudson WI.  Here is a shout-out and thank you to Rebecca E., the owner of Ultimissimo, a Salon in Hudson.  She once again so graciously allowed me to display some of my pottery in her shop during the Holiday season.  If anyone needs to be fussed on, hair, nails, etc., go there.  I’m gunna schedule a pedicure for myself real soon. 

Anyway, I’m glad that 2013 is over and I’m hoping and trusting that 2014 will better with less aggravation and more love and somehow be able to pay all my bills.  By the Grace of God, I finished 2013 with just barely enough to pay all my bills and have a couple bucks left over.

One miracle at a time – The Captain.


Captain Mudslinger - At Your Service

Mudslinger Pottery & Gallery
Kevin P. O'Hara
3032 St. Croix Trail South
Afton, MN  55001