The first couple of years of Off Center Ceramics, times were a little tight. We were new at making and selling our own pottery, we weren't that well known, and we were still figuring out what to make and what would sell. There wasn't a lot of money to spare.
As a result, our first two winters at Saturday Market's Holiday Market were spent in the tiniest, cheapest booth space they had: Eight feet deep, but only six feet wide. We'd been using our booth partner's tables and shelves all summer, but for Holiday Market I built us a nifty display counter and some folding shelves. They looked great and broke down into easily stored pieces, but for some incomprehensible reason, I made the counter five feet wide.
In a six-foot booth, that left room for a very slender person to slip past the display to get in and out. Denise could make it--barely--but I've never been, ah, svelte.
Fortunately for us, our neighbor was a crusty but kind-hearted incense vendor with an aversion to loud, crashing noises. Andy very generously left a path through the back of his corner booth for us. It was a heroic act of neighborliness; he had vast amounts of stock crammed into that space. We were very grateful, and wanted to do something for him in return. But what?
I finally got an idea during the winter following that second year's Market. I was making six or seven different kinds of animal banks by then, and thought I'd use the same technique--wheel-thrown body and hand-built limbs and features--to make an incense burner for Andy. A dragon was the obvious choice. I designed it to burn the four-inch mini-sticks that Andy sold, complete with air vents and a built-in stick holder. I glazed it green, fired it, and put it on the shelf to wait for spring.
The Eugene Saturday Market always opens on the first Saturday of April, rain or shine, I think it was April 4th that year. So after our booth was set up, I took our big-nosed, slightly cross-eyed April Fools/thank-you present across the street to Andy's booth. I hoped he'd like it, assumed he'd take it home and put it in a safe place (he had cats too), and burn incense in it. I was two-thirds right.
He did like it. He liked it so much that he stoked it with incense and fired it up right in his Market booth. He figured people would stop and admire it, and then buy incense.
You see what's coming, of course. They stopped and admired it. And wanted to buy one just like it. In no time, I was desperately making dozens, then hundreds of dragons. I've been making them for 15 years now, and a kiln load of their pop-eyed faces still makes me laugh. April Fools on me!
In addition to a 4" mini-stick, our Incense Dragons will burn half of a regular incense stick, or incense cones and bars. To use, you just lift off the top, insert your incense and light it. Blow it out (so it smokes) and replace the top of the dragon. Air vents around the base provide oxygen, the neck acts as a chimney, and smoke plumes out of the nostrils or mouth.
Dragons are around 8" high and come in a variety of shades of blues and greens, an iron-rutile blue/rust and an red-orange shino glaze, all with a contrasting head color. We try to keep a good variety of colors available in both nose and mouth-breathing styles, but it's best to check with us for the current selection.