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!


Get Adobe Flash player

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.