It's been two years since I did this. An indoor Holiday Market.

Last year, with Clayfolk cancelled and pandemic raging, we decided to stay outdoors. Saturday only, shortened hours, pray it doesn't rain. (And it didn't, until the very end of load-out on the very last day.)

This year, Clayfolk with once again not happening, due to bureaucratic mix-ups at the venue, I can actually do the entire Holiday Market, rather than ducking in on week two, Thanksgiving weekend. This is both relaxing--I'm not precooking anything for a feast between load-in and opening day--and a little stressful. I still have pots in the studio that need trimming and handles, and no idea where the time and energy to finish them will come from. At very worst, I'll wrap everything in plastic until Monday.

But the van is loaded, all the pots (and paper) ready. I've rigged the shelves for lighting, packed grid panels and conduits on the roof, added the backdrop, lights, and extra stands boxes to the mix. Vacuumed the carpet and tucked in the stepladder and electric drill. I'm as ready as I can be.

I've got pots from my most recent firing to (hopefully) carry me through December 5, and another kiln planned to restock for the remaining half of the season.

Cookies are baked, bears are recruited.

Bring on the season!

Some Assembly Required

When I first started this website in 2003, it had about six links: Welcome, The Art, The Artists, Occasionally Asked Questions (because I didn't expect enough traffic to qualify for "Frequently"), Find Us and Contact Us.

As I built it out into something like an online catalog, I added Whimsical and Functional, and, eventually, Patterns.

The other stuff just accreted over time. Links to my Flickr page, my blog, my Instagram. An online copy of my MFA thesis. A wedding registry, that's only been used twice. A link to my wife Denise's website, pulpromances.com. Most recently, during the pandemic, I added a link to what's currently in stock, because I wasn't sure when my next firing might happen, and wanted to give people contacting me for orders some sense of what was immediately available.

It's getting a little crowded in here.

It's also not particularly optimized for mobile. The fact is, I still write these updates in html. Archaic, I know. But I don't see any way to rebuild it in a more modern format without losing a whole bunch of content that's important to me.

So we're stuck with this thing, and because I recently had a customer get lost trying to see what I make, I thought I'd write a Brief Guide to offcenter.biz. A tutorial, if you will.

That's it! That's the important stuff; all the rest is just chocolate chips and sprinkles, tasty and fun, but not, strictly speaking, essential.

For Santa's reindeer...

Encore Pattern of the Month:

Deer Spotting

I remember long summer evenings when I was a kid when our treat for the night was to pile in the car and go driving the backroads, watching for deer.

Not shining deer; that involved a moonless night, a small spotlight plugged into the cigarette lighter, and if you were being illegal about it, a rifle and a tarp to cover your poached venison. (I do not refer to the method of cooking.) We didn't do that.

No, we'd go out while still light, following the dirt roads past Rock Dam, or County I beyond Willard towards Fairchild, where alder thickets and swampland provided browse for white tails. Sometimes we'd see one or two, just a flash of eyes or tails in the headlights before they bounded off into the brush. Other times a whole herd would be out in a clearing, placidly grazing. If we were very lucky, we might see a doe with spotted fawn, or even twins. Dad would drive until it was too dark to see, then turn around and head home with a back seat full of drowsy kids.

As an adult, I realize that part of the appeal for my folks was cheap entertainment. No admission tickets, unlike movies. No concession stand, unlike the softball diamond. Just a carload of kids and a tank of gas, back when gas was still in the low two digits. (Not counting the little "9". What's with that, anyway?)

But I also appreciate the interest in wildlife that it instilled in me. Seeing deer, raccoon, the occasional porcupine, even bison if we were lucky (one neighbor had a game farm permit and a small herd) is an experience I treasure to this day. I even had a little flashback experience last winter, coming home from a meeting up near Brownsville. As we came around the last curve before the straightaway to I-5, the headlights picked up a herd grazing in the brush alongside the road. Not deer, though; elk. I wish my dad had been alive to see them.

I've been painting a lot of deer on pots this spring, mostly commemorative mugs for my upcoming class reunion. But I'm also painting a lot of fawns, on tall mugs, toddler bowls, dessert plates and bakers and pie dishes.

See if you can spot them.

See other patterns...