Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Second Generational Blues

This is our personal story told in a way that it hasn't been told before and of course it is not just personal because everything is everything. None the less I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I posted it on my blog called Sitting On A Log, which was the first blog I ever created but has been mostly dormant for years until now. I envisioned Sitting On A Log as a blog that allows for the free flow of though that occurs when one goes for a walk in the woods and sit on a log in the middle of the forest and think about anything and everything.

This link also discusses the development of ideas for a new crowd-funding project, which we need to succeed this time. To that end, I am trying to plan a better marketing strategy in advance and looking for evangelists to help with promotion.

The Second Generational Blues

Friday, July 12, 2013

New Ceramic Production Ideas in Search of Innovative Marketing Consultant.



                                                                The Fin Whale

We visited with a SCORE specialist on licensing this week for a very informative meeting but left with an overwhelming new list of things to do before that can become a reality.
 
Andersen stoneware's assets are our name, our history, and our designs and original glazes with a long established marketability but, as a family business we made mistakes that resulted in working in a space and staff too small for the size of our complex company.

I have been writing about concept of  The Great American Ceramic Designers Crafsmen Network. I have learned that there is a company on the West Coast that is doing what I envision. The Company is Mud Shark Studios. They do mold and production work for others which supports their own studio work. I envision a network of similar operations and have suggested that such operations can be located in low income areas and help to revitalize the economy in a way that utilizes skills within the existing populous- but they can be located any where as long as the circumstances are right.

My thought came about as a result of our own process of producing our items in runs. Each time I did a run of  an item I found I had to relearn the little tricks that facilitate the production of that particular piece and so I envisioned outsourcing to other American  slip casting production studios that could concentrate on a smaller number of items and perfect the craft of doing half a dozen pieces. There are many reasons why working with multiple studios rather than just one is advantageous- one being that we once had such a set up in the past but with a single out side production studio. That came about at the time when our parents no longer wanted to travel the distance to Portland to operate the production  located there and so an arrangement was made with a third party that we would provide the equipment and they would build a space and run the production.

We should have protected our interests by maintaining  a productions close to us that we managed but that would have been another set of equipment and another management team. We also should have better protected our interests with a contractual agreement providing that if the other party decided they no longer wanted to run the operation that the transition would be made on terms that would accommodate our ongoing interests. As it turned out the other party one day abruptly decided not to continue  and so the production was left to be done in our own small studio space  while the equipment , as far as I know, still sits in the space that the other party built.

If there exists a network of multiple production studios, if one studio closes, their production can be shifted to the other studios. I think it could be a very creative endeavor and I would love to see it happen in America, which in my view, in the changing global context may turn out to be advantageous in ways that are not so apparent at this time- but that's a subject for another post.If we ever get to the point of establishing such a network in Maine, MudShark Studios could potentially be valuable consultants.

The discussion with the SCORE mentors included considerations of out sourcing productions outside of this country- as it should, if only because we should understand all options in order to make well informed decisons.




So we are again considering a KickStarter Project  with the project being to outsource  one of our designs to be produced by MudShark Studios. If there were such a studio in Maine or even a number of such studios, those jobs would be coming to Maine. If we can successfully fund this project and then market it, the project itself can be a working model that might be useful in setting up such a network.

This KickStarter Project project had a similar goal as above and was successfully funded.

Heath Ceramics, which I have mentioned previously in this blog, has an enviable production studio but is also a client of MudShark Studios.

To pull our KickStarter project off, we will need a better marketing plan. I hope to find evangelists who will help to promote the project. This project will be simpler and target a larger and more general audience.If you are reading this and have an idea or contact that might be useful, please let us know! It seems ripe for a consulting business to exists that helps the client with marketing a KickStarter project.

The item that we would produce in this manner will  likely be a stand alone item such as a mug, A mug happens to be the example KickStarter uses as what not to offer as a reward- too common- so KickStarter says but there is nothing common about an Andersen mug. It may or may not be the mug shown below- but when working in this manner on a first time basis with an unknown studio, the concept of a carved decorative motif is quite suitable to the method.





This is our first KickStarter Project, targeting the production of a limited edition Sculpture . It never got off the ground as a KickStarter Fundraiser but has proved useful to us in other ways. In this project I was targeting local support being that the projected production studio which we would like to establish locally would benefit the local community the most. However I believe that I over estimated local public awareness of KickStarter.

The new projected project  will focus on reaching a more general audience appropriate to project itself, which is a potentially mass market item- or relatively mass market item- relative to the historical production size of our studio.






Friday, July 5, 2013

Free China

Beautiful Music for a very important cause. Free China a people's movement important to the free world every where where ever it is.

http://americanpoliticalphilosophy.blogspot.com/2013/07/free-china.html

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Taylor Swifting The Dogma in Farenheit 2013


Definition of Taylor Swifting

1
a : fearlessly using one's life experiences in a song, a blog, or whatever....
b :individualism
c : a point of view or tenet put forth as in a personalized narrative



This week many events occurred that culminated in changing the name of this blog to Andersen Studio Evolution Diaries, inspired by words said by Russel Smith from SCORE with whom we met yesterday. Russ said many businesses die off because they fail to evolve and so this blog has just evolved from being KickStarter Diaries to being about a more diverse concept of evolution. This is the moment when we let go of everything and toss it all up into the air and see where it all lands. The hardest thing to let go of is The Great American Ceramic Artist Designers Network, but I do so as an act of faith in that if it is meant to be, it will fall into its place in the new order that forms when the cards fall to the ground.

I was pondering doing another KickStarter project but probably won't in part because KickStarter has invited a lot of negative energy. The latest occurred this week when I encountered a gang attack on a  Facebook Craft Business page. The attack came in response to a blog post that I posted quite a while back in which I mentioned KickStarter, which was enough to give the gang the idea that I was asking for their advice on why our KickStarter project was not funded. Predictably they decided the project was not funded because I did everything wrong starting with the length of what I wrote- which, I was told by the proclaimed well wishers, is in violation of an unwritten KickStarter code that mandates that one produce an advertisement- not a life story- this code being an extension of the metaphorical Farenheit 2013 code that posits that all human thought be limited by the parameters of a twitter on one end and an elevator pitch on the other. This metaphorical code is an allusion to the science fiction novel by Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451.

While the gang's meme maintained  that KickStarter mandates that one's pitch take the form of an advertisement, I conceived my pitch as equivalent to an "about us" editorial. The length was a intentional choice.  I am well aware that there are many who believe that all forms of communication should be short and sweet but I figure no one has to read the whole unless it interests them, and those that are interested enough to read the whole are probably the class of people who might have an interest in my vision of the Great American Ceramic Designer Craftsmen Network. As it happens Russel Smith did read the whole thing , which gave him some background that likely increased the relevance of our meeting, which, as it turned out was just what it needed to be, resulting in a planned next meeting with an attorney knowledgeable in the area of licensing, an option that I have long felt that we need to understand in order to make informed decisions about the direction in which to take our company

The Craft Biz gang came up with such gems of advice as "my elitist approach of presenting our business as special obviously wasn't working" ! I wonder what they think the purpose of advertising is.  They proclaimed that I had not presented my idea clearly but to my impression they lacked clarity - or perhaps I should say the lacked the ability to pay attention to what is being said. They told me that I was failing to "absorb" their critique and  I in turn could have told them that they failed to absorb the content of my Kickstarter presentation, perhaps because they were distracted from the content by their obsession with word count. How does one reconcile  elitism with a business philosophy of creating a hand made product affordable to the middle classes? By definition, the "elite" excludes the "middle" and ironically what makes Andersen Studio special is that intention to design and produce for the middle class market, and in that choice we carved out a unique place in ceramic history. By definition production ceramics is not included in the elite market place, which is centered in limited editions and one of a kind work. I am sure the adjudicators of my KickStarter project would be offended indeed if I had brought this much attention to detail into the conversation. One angry poster was already proclaiming the standard "do not indulge this poster !", without occurring to his own thought process that he might realize his own ambition by simply disengaging himself from the dialogue, but he was preoccupied with organizing a gang event. Has he lost all ability to act on an individual basis and become restricted to movements in which the gang acts in unison as a pod like creature?

And so , to my mind the theme of the critique falls into the individualist versus the collectivist debate By definition an advertisement should communicate what makes its subject special but here I am being portrayed as an elitist for portraying our ceramic enterprise with its products and long history as special, So if their use of the word "advertisement" doesn't mean communicating what is special about the subject, what then does it mean?  Left to my own interpretation of both the language and behavior of the pod-like gang, as well as some checking into their own FaceBook Pages, I conclude that by "advertisement" they mean "corporate", as in targeting mass consumption- but that is never been what Andersen Studio has been about. Ours is a history built on individualism and the personal- even as, in contradistinction our medium is production ceramics ! Somewhat of a dichotomy of which the achievement of individuality expressed through a production process is indeed that which makes Andersen Studio special. Andersen Studio's brand is symbolic of American individualism.

It is common practice for our customers to consider at length which ceramic wildlife creature has the eyes that speak most personally to them

Last but certainly not least, this week brought interest in The great American Ceramic Designer Craftsman Network from Greenville Maine, also in response to the ideas that I have written and published on line. A second generation Andersen collector who says " I responded as a private citizen and as a clinical counselor who has worked with many people who are depressed because they have no work." I wrote back that rural people have always been our best employees but that there needs to be one committed and inspired person who will take responsibility. I would very much like it if one of the cards that falls into place when they all come down to earth is the Greenville connection. It is just such a location that I have written about in my political blog where a ceramic slip casting production can help to vitalize a low income area in such a way that it utilizes the natural abilities of a pre-existing rural population, whereas many government programs are often plans to displace pre-existing populations, bringing in jobs but also importing new workers that eventually displace the pre-existing populous.

Monday, June 17, 2013

SALE Days during Sail Days- Windjammer Day Super Sale at Andersen Studio

Ocean Point in the setting sun




Boothbay Harbor in June is the time of the spectacular Windjammer Days when a fleet of fully rigged windjammers sail into the picturesque harbor On June 25th & 26th

There will many festivities
,- music, parades, and places to dine but if you feel like getting away from the crowds, a drive down the winding road to East Boothbay and the stunny rocky coastline of  Ocean Point is a refreshing place to commune with the water, air, earth, and sun.


Andersen Studio is about halfway point between the Harbor and Ocean Point, across from the Mill Pond- the image in our logo. you can't miss our big Blue & White sign!
Andersen Studio Road Sign

We are throwing another great sale for  Windjammers Days 25% off ENTIRE ORDER ! Firsts and Seconds Included ! For , our email list subscribers, we are starting the sale NOW! Through the 26th. You can use our promo code WindSale online or in the showroom just by mentioning it.
STARTS: NOW AND GOES THROUGH JUNE 26th !


                        Ceramic Floating Gull Sculpture



This is a great sale on both first and seconds and you can order anything on our site but not every item is currently in stock and so we encourage you to call Elise at 1-855-350-4016 (TOLL FREE) or 207-350-4016 to get more information about what is in stock or production. 

While many items are ready to ship, some items have to be produced.

Please Use customer_service@andersenstudio.com to contact us by email.



BEST WISHES TO ALL!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Honoring The Father

Father's Day is June 16 This email is devoted  to honoring our father, Weston Neil Andersen,  the founder of Andersen Studio and Andersen Design, 91 years old.

A youthful Weston Neil Andersen
Last night I sat with Dad alone on our front porch overlooking the pond and he spoke of  concerns for his family and the future of the business. Dad is a man who cares profoundly about others, both in the sense of family, which is the deepest concern of all, and the terms of community, as in an extension of family.  

I often throw tarot cards. The card most often representing Dad is the Hermit Card , showing an old man on a mountain holding up a lantern. Weston has wisdom, of the sort that one wonders  who will carry it on after he is  gone. Today old values are slipping away like the Mists Of Avalon-  a book I read many years ago about the transformation of culture as it evolved from paganism to organized religion. These times are as transformational and
Dad is now an icon of the past.

The Hermit card shows a man standing alone and independent on a mountain with a lantern of shining light. Dad created an unusual independence in the art business that he founded. It is a complex business that in-sources just about everything from design to production to marketing. As such the only outside authorities passing judgement on the value of the work are our collectors and the market, and so we were raised amid an  independence of art world institutional authorities but with affirmation coming from our parents and the community with which we interacted through the process of operating a business. Our collectors identified the work produced by our studio as art in the many correspondences that we received. Weston has long been recognized for the work he achieved in ceramics and business but now wonders if what he built will survive after he is gone. This is perpetually on his mind. It is a business that came to birth through years of struggle and devotion, which is unusual to come across today.

Weston Neil Andersen , der of Andersen Studioa nd Andersen Design Ceramics in the 1960'sDad has always read a great deal. Before Dad had macular degeneration, we shared an interest in quantum theory philosophers. One book that we both found inspirational as as well as informational is The Non-Local Universe, by Menas Kafatos and Robert Nadeau. The theme of the book is that of wholeness existing in all parts and parts exisying in the whole, illustrated by using the hologram as a metaphor.

Dad continued to listen to books on tapes after he could no longer read but a few years ago he fell down on the pavement and suffered a  brain injury. Then he stopped reading but he thinks all the time, sometimes about his life and at other times about the future. Once he slept for two days and when he woke up he told us that he had gotten a lot of work done.

When Dad was in the first stages of recovering from the brain injury, he was talking repeatedly about "systems management". That's when I connected with the central strength of his character. Many recognize our father for his talented work in ceramic design but behind that- which made it all possible , is my father's incredible understanding of systems management-  an understanding that involves the way that the whole is in the parts and the parts are in the whole. As my father was recovering from the brain injury, he was applying the same understanding to recovering his own mind. 


The Floating Gull is the first Nature Art created by Andersen Studio, The slightly stylized work has a whispering geometric appeal with out losing its natural quality

After the brain injury, Dad's essential character remained the same but his psyche was rearranged in an interesting and unusual way. I can no longer engage in a discussion of the molecular make up of ceramic glazes with Dad, a capacity which uses the intellectual capacity of the mind, but in place of that has emerged an intellect of feelings. Dad expresses his feelings with a childlike purity merged with a mature understanding of life. His thoughts are often expressed cryptically. Language is constructed in creative and original patterns. Sentences are short or even partial. Dad will talk about a person but not identify who they are although I can often probe to find out more. He often answers with merely a nod for yes or no, sometimes speaks in sign language and at times refuses to speak at all while at another moment can become quite loquacious with a flow of thoughts which are  perceptive and economically delivered. Weston Neil Andersen at 90

A while ago Dad went with us to meeting with our lawyer We met in a room in the Damariscotta Library. Dad walked in and announced "We can do a lot for this community". That's the way Dad thinks. Before the meeting was over he had switched places with the lawyer at the head of the table. He made an emphatic point to the lawyer that he had married his wife, with whom Weston  still remains deeply connected. 


This time when Dad came home from rehab the very first words Dad had to say are "We need to work with people we do not know" He is right of course. We need a  organization with people of many different sorts of skills. As a starting point we are looking for a business consultant who understands licensing.

I keep an on going blog about our business at Andersen Studio KickStarter Diaries.
I hope some will enjoy following it with interest.

Tufteitmouse by Mackenzie Andersen in wax 

                 Another view of the Tufted Titmouse Sculpture waiting  mold making process to commence.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Post KickStarter Update

The Tufted Titmouse Sculpture which I am currently developing


As you may know by now our first KickStarter Project received minimal support and so was not funded. I attribute this mainly to people not understanding what KickStarter is- or at least framing in in a very limited and often derogatory way.

KickStarter is both Revolutionary and Evolutionary.


KickStarter is revolutionary in that it is a rare new capitalization venue that  includes  the micro economy,. Kickstarter uses language that is usually associated with non-profit fundraisers, and so some have said that it is "asking for money for free". Some in the private sector use KickStarter that way but  the KickStarter Guidelines for the private sector recommends that the value of the rewards offered be in close proximity to the standard retail value, making KickStarter a fundraising venue for small micro economy businesses that qualify as "creative" by KickStarter's measure, and which allows a private enterprise the opportunity to raise operating capital using one's own resources and without going into dept.

KickStarter is evolutionary in that it is an online evolution of the most traditional means within  the micro economy to raise capital for starting or expanding a business, i.e, through the support of friends and family. This means is commonly recommended on any How To Guideline for starting a small business.

Secondly KickStarter is an evolution of the media trend started by American Idol in which the American public votes to help the contestants to kickstart their careers in a given field. On my political blog I have been examining how the taxpayer's money is being invested in private enterprises on a much larger scale and often without their knowledge or consent, Most Mainer's do not know that they invest, in the manner of non-profit gift giving, in the Small Enterprise Growth Fund).  The public who support a KickStarter fundraiser do so with full knowledge and of their own volition.


Thirdly KickStarter is an evolution of the merger of non-profit and private sector capitalization practices that have been in existence for years. For the first time the direction of that merge is reversed. Until Kickstarter the merger meant that the non-profit sector could engage in private sector means of raising capital but the private sector could not engage in a traditionally non-profit method of raising capital, by launching a public fundraiser. Over the years Andersen Studio has contributed hundreds of our products to non-profit fundraisers. Unfortunately the word "fundraiser" is associated with asking for "money for free", which is not consistent with the KickStarter Guidelines for private sector fundraisers, which might more advantageously  be called a capitalization drive



Moldmaking Update


The mold making project for the large Heron is on hold because I have sculpted my first bird sculpture and our  mold-making budget will go toward making a mold of the Tufted Titmouse and developing it as a new product. I would like to find a gallery or galleries to market the Heron and our new limited edition line. We hope to be able to invest in the Heron project at some future date but I also have several other sculptures that I would like to do or complete and so there are choices to be made. I have found that sculpting is an excellent activity to do while keeping my father and founder of Andersen Studio company at the kitchen table. He has recently become very engaged in studying the sculptures for the first time since his brain injury a couple of years ago. I was sitting at the table working on the sculpture the other day when my father said "Why don't you show it to me": (he approves). Weston enjoys listening to the jazz classics of his own era while I keep him company at the kitchen table. The keeping of company seems most important and has a strongly evident affect. Dad sat on our front porch which looks out on the Mill Pond for several hours the other day. I have been trying to get him outside for years but he always said it was too cold. This time when I asked him if he was cold, he said "yes" but when I asked him if he wants to go in, he said "no".



The Mill Pond is more than just an exquisitely beautiful and ever changing view

 it is also a part of our story,


There are several other sculptures started that I would like to work on but one has a special purpose as it is a very large Otter Sculpture begun by my father years ago but never completed. It represents an engaging start and I am also very curious to see how Dad might become engaged in seeing a sculpture develop which is his own.

We continue to work with the young woman who came to us with experience with another small ceramic company. She has experience in mold making . She is currently working with Elise on developing wholesale accounts and I hope she will also help us to locate galleries which can market our limited edition lines. She is eager to be involved in the productive process and so when we develop a larger budget for mold-making, I would like to try out her skills.

In addition to developing more wholesale accounts our current capital raising efforts include running various three day sales available through our email list. We still have the same problem with internet expectations of delivery yesterday. And we are always explaining that that expectation is not realistic for us at this time. We know how to make that happen but we do not yet have the means to make it happen and those are the terms of agreement with which we must necessarily work. Our goal is to meet those internet expectations but in order to create the means for doing so, we have to work within our current limitations.

With that understanding- There are great deals by signing up for our email list, which you can do on our home page at www.andersenstudio.com







Thursday, April 4, 2013

Terms of Agreement- A Reality Story





Dad was right about working on my sculpture from feeling only. The Tufted Titmouse is moving ahead faster than before as I find I have a clarity about what I want to achieve by working in this way.  Dad seems fascinated by the sculpture as an object of study that he frequently caresses. He is doing amazingly well.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on getting the items of our line published online. Once they are up, they can be activated and deactivated at will.  Yesterday I published the Emperor Penguin.


Our KickStarter Project is stalled at 12% of our minimum goal needed to retain any funding. We have however seen an increase in email sales and sign-ups on our website.  I am already brewing some ideas related to this effort but now is not the time to reveal them- however I may release them early to our email list for which one can sign up HERE

Whatever the results of the current fundraising project, it will remain published on KickStarter where the our vision of a Great American Ceramic Designer Craftsmen Network will receive exposure and I plan on continue to publish my Kickstarter Diaries Blog, on Google and on Kickstarter.


I am currently working on publishing the Seal Emerging from Water on our online store at www.andersenstudio.com

A while back  there was  a response to my vision from a young couple located near us. She is pursuing her own business as a ceramic designer and he is a painter and a professional brander. They gave us a presentation about marketing  founded on the idea that we should market to the “influencers”  and produce our work as a limited edition line at a much higher price point.

The original contact was with the wife who contacted us in regards to slip casting,  which she has pursued on her own but not with us. We cannot offer a high wage to meet expectations based on the income made in an urban environment, and so I attributed that as the reason why no real working relationship came about through that connection. After the presentation was made, there was no offer and we were left wondering what was the purpose.

Since then, I have intermittently engaged an email dialogue with the husband, a professional brander. He consistently tells me that everything I have done is wrong, and so, I did not contact him before launching my Kickstarter project but waited until there were 12 days to go and then I said to him “If you can make this KickStarter project fly- then I will be impressed- and if you want to brand us then brand us for the unique business that we actually are”.

He told me that the project was failing because everything I did was wrong and so I thanked him for responding and told him that he had answered my question.

And the email dialogue continued on .

Eventually, he said that we should be offering a wage, suggested a not unreasonable wage and shared ownership of our company – with OWNERSHIP- all in capital letters.

And I said that the idea of the Great American Ceramic Designer CraftsmenNetwork is that it will be a network of independently owned studio’s sharing resources somewhat on the model of a franchise- which is different that sharing ownership. One does not enter lightly into shared ownership- does he see the difference?
I have to say that if there were an offer of a sizable investment on the table such a demand might seem reasonable, but other wise the demand just fails to acknowledge the trade off in terms between owning one's own business, especially a micro economy business, where in all of the employees must be paid before the business owner. The employee enjoys the security of a guaranteed pay check, which the business owner does not. I had just told my friend that it took years before my parents started making real money- after I had left home. It's hard to imagine anyone in this day and age going through such a long struggle.

So my friend is telling me that the employees should have both a guaranteed pay check and ownership of the business , sounding very socialist to my ears. What happens when the employee business owners are told that they have to sacrifice their paycheck to keep the business afloat ? What happens if they leave the business ? What if they aren't even worth their paycheck?

In the franchise model, there is a contractual agreement between independently owned businesses. Each business has the responsibility of running their own operation in such a way that they make a profit. The contractual agreement between the two parties should grant each a fair chance to profit by the terms of the agreement but does not necessarily mean that the agreement is the sole source of income for either entity. The idea is to provide a leg-up to other entrepreneurs using the resources that our business has created, From there the relationship should grow in its own form organically. The parties may find that they want to work more independently or more collaboratively based on the development of the relationship between the two parties and external considerations as well. Once the terms of relationship are established, then if there is a purpose and advantage to shared ownership, there is a viable basis for working that out. Shared ownership is not an entitlement.


My friend did not seem to understand that the great American Ceramic Designer Craftsmen Network is envisioned as a private sector network of operating micro-businesses. He referred to it as a ceramic educational center, which it is only to the degree that our business has always trained the employees on the job

We are currently working with a young woman who came to us with a ceramics industry background. She worked with a relatively well known pottery on the West Coast and so like us has worked in all aspects of the business from mold making to slip-casting to marketing to business management. We are currently working with her as an outside contractor and thus far find the relationship is very compatible. Today we discussed our eCommerce software which has many functions that we have not been able to familiarize ourselves with and utilize to its full capacity. She will be looking into that and helping us to utilize it effectively. She seems to have a good organizational mind and the attitude that we all need to work together to build our resources potential so that we can all make money. That is the spirit that reigns in the micro-economy and the spirit that our country needs to nurture in these difficult times.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weston Neil Andersen- A Natural Wonder Of The World



This is Weston Neil Andersen, the father of Andersen Studio Ceramics. This photo was taken a few months ago when Dad was at Maine Midcoast Hospital. He recently returned from rehab,where he was diagnosed as "in decline" as is the way things are trending in health care for the elderly these days.. Dad caught a bad cold but it was diagnosed as "swallowing troubles", which we didn't think true, and as it turned out, we were right..When we brought Dad home, he could hardly hold up his cup and he barely spoke and if he did it was in partial thoughts.

But he has been getting better ever since because what ailed him has common causes with common cures. It's amazing to see him improve. He now talks in complete sentences with complex thoughts even though he suffered a brain injury about two and a half years ago. His physical strength is getting stronger as well.

I have long been aware that Dad reads my mind. I write blogs and engage in internet discussion forums and even though Dad is not involved with these activities, he  engages the ongoing train of thought.

So today he looked at me and quite suddenly said "I know what you feel" and I knew what he meant since I was feeling all the tension of being engaged in the progress of this project, which is somewhat  like being in limbo. One has to normalize but within a thirty day time span more or less,which really isn't normal at all.

So I sat down with Dad by the fire because I knew he wanted to talk to me and he spoke about "it" being involved with one's whole life. Everything he said made sense without specifically identifying the subject of the conversation. We both knew what it was.

This process requires a lot of thought control, doing things to get one's mind off the project and then finding one's self promoting it like an involuntary activity that just occurs on its own.

My plan is to work on a sculpture that has been lying dormant for quite sometime in the wax stage, which comes after the plasticine stage. My brother, Iain, delivered another sculpture that needs some work. I placed  both sculptures on the kitchen table and Dad became very involved with them. I have not seen him take such an interest since his brain injury. He said of my brothers sculpture that it had four sides. I asked if that was good and Dad shook his head no. I understood what Dad meant. A sculpture should keep the eye moving around it- not stopping the eye. It's very exciting that Dad's interest in sculpture is returning for the first time since his brain injury. It looks like Dad isn't in decline.

Next Day: Today I opened a book I have of photographs of the Tufted Titmouse. Dad Said  "Don't go by counting"  I said you mean "don't go by the numbers"? Dad nodded his head. I said "you mean "Don't go by the pictures ?" Dad nodded his head again."You mean just go by feeling. Dad nodded again.

Interesting advice, which I am going to follow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kickstarting a Micro-Economy Revitalization


Steve Brooks, Maine’s would be next Governor of Maine and proponent of redistributing tax dollars serving Maine’s low income rural areas to Maine’s urban cities which have received the lion’s share of state and federal taxpayer dollars- said the following, regarding the money that he was able to procure to subsidize his business interests "

"For the TideSmart Global Business Garden to grow and prosper, we need the help and support of friends, family, business associates, community members, and local, county, state and national leaders."  He continued, "There has never been a better time to expand TideSmart Global's operations and the economic incentives offered through federal and state stimulus programs have enabled us to harness this opportunity." 




And I say This:
 For the Great American Ceramic Designer Craftsmen Network Garden to grow and prosper, we need the help and support of friends, family, business associates, and community members,.There has never been a better time to expand Andersen Studio and Andersen Design  which can potentially help to revitalized Maine's low income rural areas . The help and support of KickStarter and our family of friends have the potential to enable us to harness this opportunity."

So far we are only at 9% of our project goal- which is the minimum goal that we need to reach to retain any of the funding.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Andersen Studio KickStarter Project Plan B




The stoneware Loon is a reward in our current KickStarter project. In Plan B the Stone ware Loon would be still be available to order on the basis of a Kickstarter style project in which the project is to do a special run of items not in our standard line.




To date, Our Kickstarter project is receiving very little support.. Since we are at the age when we have to come up with real solutions for the future of our ceramic design and slip-casting company, and at the same time have an opportunity to increase our business through the internet  provided we can reconfigure production and order fulfillment to meet the requirements of the online market. I am already thinking about what to do if the current KickStarter project does not produce an adequate response toward achieving such a goal.
    

 The Stoneware Wren and most of the small birds will be in Plan B's standard line, always available to order


Our very last and least attractive option to us to sell the rights to manufacture our line to another company, likely to produce it in China, or some other country with low labor costs, as is the common practice among  high profile brand name products. We want to keep the work process handcrafted in the USA. We like the concept that what we have built could be instrumental in revitalizing low income areas, as opposed to relocating the inhabitants of such communities by cutting off tax dollars to those communities as Democratic gubernatorial hopeful,  Steve Woods has suggested in his macro management view of the Maine economy..


Its hard to imagine giving up on our dream and the original intentions that started this company- to create a hand made product, affordable to the middle classes, and made in the USA. If our first KickStarter Project  falls short of hopeful expectations, we can still do other Kickstarter projects, in which we can offer runs of some of the items in our line which will no longer be included in what we regularly offer.

  ENTER


We are doing this KickStarter project primarily because our space and organization are too small to support growth, especially growth through online sales,for which the expectation is
immediate delivery.We need to be able to satisfy that expectation in order to utilize internet marketing venues and to grow our business in the way that we need to grow it.


And so I am conceptualizing Plan B which is that if we cant expand our operation, then we should minimize the size of the line that we offer to our customers on a regular basis. This would make it more possible for us to fulfill the delivery expectations of online marketing. We would have a much smaller standard line, which will always be available and in stock. Other products in our line would only be available as Kickstarter projects in which the project will be to produced as a run of selected items and  orders accepted on those term.By producing the line this way we can date and number each run- which is not the same as doing a limited edition but does add historical documentation

We are just a very small operation and so if we can't expand our operation, it makes sense to streamline it. If it comes to Plan B and we can successfully follow this plan, we might gradually increase the number items available in the standard line as Plan B becomes a stepping stone to get to the goal of capitalizing a larger production and order fulfillment facility with a larger organization.


Since a ceramic network of small slip-casting studio's is still our ultimate goal, Plan B can also be a way for us to develop portions of our line that can be farmed out to other slip casting studios if such an opportunity manifests. During the first phase of Plan B we will be functioning as that network by rotating our production, which is what we have always done but it will be done in a more planned and organized way that is adaptable to online expectations.

On the upside, we are pleased to be working with a new collaborator who has the ability to wear many different hats , which is the way we have been working for decades. We love her spirit. We hope to find a whole team like this. More on that later.

After note" As I am running this idea through my mind I am realizing that there are existing developed group purchasing plans . We need to look at all of the different approaches and design a program that accommodates the large size of our line and the small size of our staff and space and targets the transition that I am trying to achieve with the KickStarter project. The general goal remains the same. It would be  great to have another person appear that is as flexible and compatible to the way we work who could design such a program for us so that I can work on my Tufted Titmouse sculpture, which I thought I was going to be able to get to at this point. Infusion Soft, which we are already using has great tools and so I am going to post there.



Monday, March 18, 2013

A Ceramic Enterprise Can Revitalize a Community VS Steve Woods "Relocating" Solution.


 Preserving A Cultural Tradition and a Way of Life.

Andersen's Studio's Vision of A Great American Ceramic Designer's craftsmen Network could revitalize communities which Gubernatorial hopeful Steve Woods suggests should have their populations relocated to urban areas.



In 1952 Weston and Brenda Andersen moved to the coast of Maine to set up a ceramic design and slip-casting studio. They opened up shop in a two hundred year old barn on Southport Island on the Boothbay Peninsula. As soon as they opened their doors, and there after, collections began which have been handed down from one generation of Andersen collectors to the next.

It was a grass roots collectible movement. No grand authority proclaimed that the Andersen work was the thing to collect. Andersen Stoneware became collectible through the inclinations of thousands of individual collectors acting on their own. Each collector made a personal discovery and iconic connection - not only of the Andersen line but with the individuality of each hand crafted piece.

And now, after decades of being collectable ceramic art, Andersen Studio is introducing its first documented and numbered limited edition collectible sculpture available exclusively through the Andersen Studio’s KickStarter fundraising project.

Andersen Studio’s first documented limited edition sculpture is also one of a few such limited edition works to be offered designed by founder Weston Neil Andersen.

Art collector, Reese Palley, writing in The Porcelain Art of Edward Marshall Boehm, describes the popularity of a work as even more important than the size of a limited edition in determining its future value. The Heron is an exceptionally beautiful work, about which we have received many inquiries since it was first designed in the 1990's. At that time only a few Herons were produced as the piece proved to be problematic during the firing process and the mold needed to be re-worked in order to resolve the problems.  Ever since until now the mold has been laying dormant.

The fundraising goal of a KickStarter Project represents the amount of funds that must be raised in order to retain any of the funds. However Kickstarter projects commonly raise funds far and above the stated goal. The “above and beyond” fundraising goal of Andersen Studio is to capitalize a new production and customer fulfillment facility and an expanded organization which is absolutely necessary for growth in the age of the internet commerce. The marketability of the Andersen’s classic line of designs is a proven fact. Over its history Andersen ceramics have been sold in small retail shops, large department stores and catalogs, Museum galleries and online. Andersen has been a top seller in distinguished locations such as The America House, which was located across the street from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Andersen Studio has been recognized for its place in ceramic history by such sources as VaseFinder.com and numerous antiques dealers.

As Andersen Studio grew, it spawned a cluster of ceramic slip casting enterprises on and about the Boothbay Peninsula. In today’s economy it is more difficult to start and maintain ceramic slip casting business but Andersen Studio has an impressively developed line and long historical roots that has enabled it to maintain the number one spot on Google for it’s prime search term “ceramic birds” and first page placement for other relevant terms. Although we made the decision to stop actively pursuing marketing until we can find a way to expand our organization to meet the needs of the new markets, our online presence grows organically on its own with our email list expanding daily.

Andersen Studio is also looking into the future to ensure that the uniquely creative business that our family built can be passed down to future generations of American ceramic designer craftsmen and so we have envisioned the Great American Ceramic Designer Craftsmen Network. This is a lofty and challenging goal but Andersen Studio is unusually suited to be a private sector leader in pursuit of the dream.

KickStarter is the modern day version of the most common capital resource for micro-economy businesses- through friends and family. Andersen Studio knows that we have many such friends because we have received so many letters of appreciation from our collectors over the years. The challenge is to spread the word and let the world know about our project. We have many great rewards to offer from collectible ephemera to collectible ceramics. You can read more about our project and our vision on our blog Andersen Studio KickStarter Diaries. Please join us in kickstarting an evolution.

Slip cast ceramics is an opportunity industry, which can be located in low income areas- such as the 108 towns whose populations Gubernatorial hopeful  Steve Steve Woods recently suggested should have its populations relocated to urbanareas. In our long history, Andersen Studio has always found the local Maine people to be our best employees. Although we cannot compete with the taxpayer subsidized economy that Maine’s state economic development corporations have built in our state’s urban centers, our company can be classified as an “opportunity business”. A ceramic slip-casting company can regenerate the same types of communities that Gubernatorial candidate Steve Woods suggests should be “relocated” . The Andersen Studio Retail Gallery has always been “destination shopping”, setting a precedence for what could be destination shopping in some of the underdeveloped areas of Maine- just as LL bean was once destination shopping.

Andersen Studio has many skills to teach beyond skills specific to ceramic production, including creative marketing and photography skills. There is talent hidden in the under developed communities that Steve Woods would simply re-locate but talent needs an environment in which to grow. A ceramic slip casting network such as we visualize as the future evolution of the business that our family built can create just such an environment, any where- not only in Maine’s urban centers which receive the lions share of business capital distributed by Maine’s tax payer subsidized economic development corporations.

Ceramics is an ancient craft that has long been important in the cultural identities across the globe. Andersen Studio is in a unique position to lead the culture tradition  of American ceramics into the future- with a little help from our friends.

Our Kickstarter project can be found at www.kickstarter.com in the local listings for Waldorboro, Maine. There is also a link on our website andersenstudio.com

Monday, March 4, 2013

Andersen Studio Kickstarter- Coming Soon!


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It's Coming soon!

 

I would like to give credit to the Open Source and Private Sector resources that helped me to learn how to:

Design a website, 


Target our seo so that we are able to maintain a number one position on Google for "ceramic birds" and first page position for some of our other relevant search terms


Learn to make a video and add the sound track as you see above:

Special Thanks to the Open Source Community goes to :

http://www.3schools.com for their excellent tutorials on html. css, xml- and more.
Amaya.com for its online web page designer ap


Joomla.com and Gantry,framework.org  for their eCommerce templates

WAMPSERVER for its desktop server app.


ccmixter.com, Freesound.org, Free-Loops.com, incompetech.com for their invaluable music and sound resources


Creative Commons for their legal resources




Special Thanks to the Private Sector Community goes to :

Rocket Theme for its templates and tutorials offered at a reasonable subscription fee

Adobe for its great reasonably priced subscription to its creative suite

infusionSoft for its small business ecommerce app with many different resources that we have yet to learn. Since we started using InfusionSoft, we have seen a steady growth in our email mailing list. Some of the resources available on InfusionSoft, which we have not yet explored included apps for social networking sales representation.

KickStarter.com for hosting online fundraisers available to private sector businesses

And special thanks to numerous other online resources that enabled learning how to put all of this together.