1 Year Old Blog…

Well, today is February 2nd and that is one year to the day that I started this blog. To say that the blog experience is different than I thought it would be is a huge understatement. From a stats point of view, I have posted 275 times and collected 2150 comments. I’ve decided to use this anniversary to tackle the overdue explanation of the why behind blogging from my point of view to be in conjunction with the…

Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story
Opening reception will be held at the Campbell House in Moore county from 6-8 pm
October 1st, 2010

Before leaping into that just a visual to show what a difference a year makes with a child. It’s a cliche to say that kids grow up too fast but when it’s happening it’s difficult not to wish it would slow down a bit, if only because the huge differences in the child represent an ascent whereas the one year from 51 to 52 represents a reciprocal decline and I can say that the laundry list of infirmaries that I’ve kept mostly quiet about definitely make you wonder about how long one can maintain this lifestyle and career. But on to the proof on my third post ever I posted this picture of my raison d’etre with her first fired piece…

Here she is exactly one year later…

OK… so why blog? My previous job was a business that my best friend and I started and it was an internet development company replete with enough stories to write a book. The reason to mention this is only to say that after 3 1/2 years of being a potter, it was a bit embarrassing and quite a nagging problem that of all people I did not have a web presence. The prospect of directing my propensity for perfectionism toward designing and building a website for myself and taking into account that in the interim of 4 years since I worked at the company (the last 4 there not actually making websites myself), it only remained daunting to entertain how much time this was going to take away from actually making pots. Add to that the knowledge that things change in this arena extremely fast and that 8 years without actually building any sites would be almost like not ever having built any and that building a website is useless if you can’t direct traffic to it. So my computer died and I decided to get a mac and we splurged for dsl (my dial up connection had kept me from spending any considerable amount of time on the web because I could feel myself aging as I waited for a simple picture to download), then I set out to see about getting a website. I didn’t spend much time at all before I discovered what had happened in my 4 year hiatus from the internet world… blogs had matured. So all of a sudden there was a free, easy, connected way to get a presence on the web and at the very least I could point someone to the address and they could see pictures of my pots. At the time before I had met all the people that I’ve since met, I stumbled upon Kristen Kieffer’s blog and I liked that she could set up pages (like a website and which I still have at the top in the right column) to serve in the tradition role of a website and then update periodically in the main section. This is why I ended up choosing wordpress although I had already set up the beginnings of the same thing on blogspot. Then I discovered Etsy. So my reason for starting the blog was really just crass marketing. I wanted to sell online so as not to have to share such a large percentage with a gallery all the time and in my naivete I figured that the blog was the way to generate traffic to point to etsy. I was uncomfortable with the idea of a “public diary” and my plan was to do 1 post per week and I really had no idea what I would post about. I remember talking to a friend and saying… what the hell can I write about once a week? Then I met Gary. I have still never met a greater blog advocate than Gary Rith. I would visit his blog and was completely taken with the hi jinx, pictures of work, posting of his dreams and just general silliness. Gary was posting 2, sometimes 3 times a day and at the time he was on his second blog because he had filled the memory on his first (he’s on his third now) and he and I traded emails back and forth about blogging and selling through the blog and on Etsy. He was very instrumental in getting me to visualize a way forward to get it to work. By April I was posting virtually daily. The differences between my view of why I was going to blog and why I blog now are quite different in many ways. I still wish to sell work online and I have (xmas was gonna be my test and it wasn’t bad but not as good as I would have hoped) but the blog has somehow transformed itself into a way to connect with people. I know that this is a cliche and it’s basically the definition of social networking but there’s a difference between theoretical knowledge and doing it and having it work, no matter how great or small the expectations of how it might work were. I am in almost daily contact with people that I think would be more than mere acquaintances if we lived in proximity to one another. Kindred spirits, who have one solid base of commonality… we love clay. We love looking at it, talking about it, making things out of it, talking about it, watching others make stuff out of it, talking about it, seeing equipment and tools and studios and how it affects their families and because of the blogs we have a front row seat of the undeniable progress of all sorts of people pushing themselves forward in a variety of clay techniques at various stages of their lives. Along with all that you see kilns getting built, kilns getting fired, work being photographed, shows being set up, parties and music and food… almost everything. The price of admission is free to watch and an occasional post to participate. For me there’s also a tinge of pressure to keep up with all these people doing all these things. I’ve had several opportunities that are a direct result of people discovering or following the blog. I met Jeff Campana who lives in the same city as I do and I didn’t know it until we met online… now we meet for beers occasionally, share common viewpoints about all things clay and we will be in a show together in Chicago in couple months. I’m certain that if I didn’t have the blog this wouldn’t have happened. And then, as I mentioned above, there’s the “Clay and Blogs” Telling a Story show that Meredith at Whynot Pottery is putting together in the fall. I follow practically everyone in the show… there are people from England and Australia and even California. It should be a hoot to see how this whole thing comes together and I can’t wait. I managed to work in a trip and actually got meet Gary and his beautiful wife, Maude, when I went home to central NY for Thanksgiving. We had beers together and got to chat for quite some time with no great hurry and maybe if I get to go, I can attend the opening of the “Clay and Blogs” show and meet all these people too. I feel like I’m starting to ramble a bit so I’ll wrap it up by saying that blogging has made me feel connected and in a way supported by a community of people with the same interests and if nothing else it makes me feel that I am not alone pursuing a career that requires much sacrifice, many hours and the sometimes cruel and untimely setbacks that teach us what we need to know(but such is the nature of clay). I guess my favorite description so far is from Hollis Engley who said about daily checking in on his blogger friends… “This is the kind of thing we’d talk about at the bar or the pub or the coffee shop if we were a group of potters working in the same town. But we’re a group of potters working on the same planet, and we get to share these things through this marvelous blogosphere. A sort of virtual pub, actually, though we can’t buy each other a pint.”


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22 Responses to “1 Year Old Blog…”

  1. gary rith Says:

    Rock on Jim 🙂 I am a lean, mean, blogging machine and now you are too!

  2. m@ Says:

    And that is exactly what blogging is (or was, at least) all about–communication, community, camaraderie. When a buddy and I started our first blog nearly 10 years ago ( http://is.gd/7yitU ), it was because of all the people we were meeting and getting to know online. People who were computer geeks, art geeks, hipsters, and hucksters just pouring their lives out into the ether for everyone to see. It was all about community.
    Then blogging gave way to pro-blogging, Blogger gave way to livejournal, then to myspace, then to facebook… the community has changed, from a community of like-minded strangers, to a community of loosely geographically or genetically connected acquaintances.
    So, it’s heartening to follow blogs like yours, not because I’m a potter, not because you’re a loosely geographically connected acquaintance, or my former boss, or an erstwhile friend, but because I enjoy reading about your life, your trials and triumphs, and about how you’re getting the same thing out of blogging that made me fall in love with it in the first place.
    So, raise a pint for me.

    • jim Says:

      hi matt, great to hear from you… we should raise a pint together sometime. hope things are going well.

  3. michael Says:

    You’ve managed to get into my morning routine, with your wonderful “ramblings”!!

    I love seeing that solid column of words that tell such a great story.

    Thanks and Happy Anniversary!

  4. Zygote Says:

    Cheers Jim!!

  5. Connie Norman Says:

    Happy Anniversary!!! Thank you for your post today. It made me reflect on my blog. Although my blogging experience is one year and 3 months old, (I had to go and look) I feel I really have just begun. It’s taken me a year to know what I what to do with my blog. Before I’ve had a few random posts about participating in shows, but now I feel I have a direction and a purpose. I hope next year when I have my blog anniversary, I will be entrenched in the blog community. Thank you for your inspiration!!!

  6. John Dorsey Says:

    Jim – really great description of your process. I’ve connected with so many bloggers through your site and others – makes me fell like I’m not in this all by myself. I wish I could control nouns and adverbs the way that you do. I don’t really know what an adverb is…

  7. Cindy Gilliland Says:

    Your blog is always a good read. The happenings of Sofia always make me smile 🙂 Congrats on your one year Blogversary!

  8. soubriquet Says:

    Surely not? It can’t be only a year can it?
    Zowie! I left a comment on the 24th of february! It seems I’ve known you longer than that.
    Hollis Engley’s quote is just right. In this internet medium, we can meet, exchange ideas, marvel at the things others are doing, but the pictures are not like pics in a magazine, or in a gallery catalogue, because we hear the potters talk about their work, their ideas, the things they love, what makes them laugh, those pots are no longer just isolated artifacts, they each carry a story, a life.
    How I wish we could all meet up and drink beer and swap stories, and talk clay and kilns, (all the stuff that makes the eyes of normal people glaze over).
    How about a pub with a clay-tub by each table? -we could all be making silly things as we chatted, playing with textures, lifting wood-grain patterns…
    It would be like a kid’s play area for grown-ups.
    Raku and kiln-baked pizza outside after sundown.

    I remember, the first post of yours I read was the second, I think, that you wrote, the studio pictures. Then you posted some great wet-slipped vases, then a child, clothed in clay, with a face that had been in clay, she’s kept me entertained all through the year, your mix of pots, thoughts, and Sofia reports has been a delight. And yes, I’ve followed every post.
    And Hey! I’ve got a Jim Gottuso pot!!!!!

    Keep it coming, Jim, I wish I could come to the exhibition, maybe it’ll just have to be a virtual presence, I think the idea’s such a good one.

  9. Miri Says:

    Congrats Jim! I’ve enjoyed reading your adventures over the past year and have also very much appreciated your comments on our blog and my work. The interweb is a marvelous thing, ain’t it?

  10. meredith Says:

    You have a way with words.
    Well said.
    I bumped into you off someone else’s blog and fell in love with your work and your beautiful Sofia.
    What brings me back to some blogs and not others I can not tell you.
    But the love between you, Sofia and the demon dog drew me back.
    That and you like good beer.

    Please come to the reception.
    Let me know- there are others planning to come.
    You guys could share a ride, a room whatever and we will supply some beer and food while you are here.

    I hope to watch Miss. Sofia grow into a teenager and a wise, talented free thinking and wonderful women.
    Happy anniversary!
    One year down and many more to go.

  11. Peter Says:

    Love your blog Jim, congrats on your bloggiversary. I treasure being able to read what you have to say, to see your work, and to share a moment in your household. Meredith put things so well in her comment about “the love between you, Sofia and the demon dog” drawing her back, and she is right, I would add that your humour helps too! The exhibition “Clay and Blogs, telling the story” that Meredith is organizing will be such an exciting event. I don’t know if it will be possible for me to get there in person, but… I am thinking about it.

    Best Wishes to you and Sofia (sorry for the times I give her name a ph instead of an f in the middle!).

  12. Ron Says:

    Jim, I have a looong list of blogs on my Reader and some of them I look at briefly on the Reader and move on. When you have a new post, I immediately click it and open it up in my browser. Everything you post is such a good read and I love catching up with what you are doing and with lovely Sofia. Anyhow, thanks for another great post. It’s gonna be fun being in the Clay and Blogs show. I do hope you’ll make it out to the opening.

  13. Barbara Edwards Says:

    Even if I have little time in the day, yours is one of the blogs I check in with because you are a terrific storyteller and writer. You live with built-in great story lines about the wildebeest Dingusdog and the irrepressible, delightful, and creative Sofia and write about them with such humor and joy (um, joy for Sofia anyway) that it keeps me coming back to see what’s happening next. And to see your elegant work, too, of course.

  14. Yana Says:

    Wow, only a year. Thanks for putting it all out there. I love this read. Not just for the clay, I love the red pooper days.

  15. Judy Shreve Says:

    Your humor, lovely daughter & demon dog’s antics are all great to read — but I also love how you make such wonderful work in spite of floodings & unheated spaces & the shenanigans of those you live with — I can’t believe it’s been a year of great reads. I’m looking forward to more.

  16. ang Says:

    happy blogiversary indeed!!! wow i made it through that epic post and you da man, thanks for the hilarity that is your life with sofia daily , and for the comments that you keep sending my way, they’re always cool too….

  17. Cathy Says:

    Congrats on the anniversary James- I love your blog, it keeps me up to date on your life. We really should talk more.

  18. Amy H Says:

    I’m really surprised that you’re not one of the ones featured in Clay and Blogs in October 2010. Their loss.
    On another note, your girl is beautiful! It’s fun to read stories about her and her love for the arts- especially pottery. Thanks for the blog!

  19. judi tavill Says:

    Happy Belated..
    I saved this on my desktop trying to think of just the right thing to say since yesterday… and NOW I am a day late.
    You and Sophia are MAJOR!!!
    Love love love.
    That’s all.

  20. Kristen Kieffer Says:


  21. Supersillyus Says:

    write on

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