Am I on sabbatical?

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Yes, I’m having a sabbatical, of sorts! Last year I worked really hard fighting the good copyright fight and shipping a ton of unicorn mugs.  Now I’m focusing my energies on a new project: developing new work. It’s been slow going at times, with technical problems and side projects taking up more time than expected. But it’s starting to come together and we just got a decal firing out of the new electric kiln with some really exciting results.

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My assistant and I have been making some new extruder dyes for handles and texture tools for the clay. I’m learning to be more methodical with my design process.  Listening to other potters talk about their work on The Potters Cast podcast has been a real inspiration, and I’m rethinking every aspect of how I produce my work. Here are some texture tools I threw on the wheel a few weeks ago:

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My new computer controlled electric kiln works perfectly, and we just unloaded a great firing. There are 22 brand new decal mugs into my online store now, and they are all one of a kind items, priced at the ridiculously low prices of $10 – $35 each. Next week, I’m going to the NCECA ceramics conference in Minneapolis, MN. I’m really looking forward to taking in as many lectures and demonstrations as I can. When I get back, I’ll be doing another decal firing right off the bat with lots of new imagery on the decals. I’ve got a few ambitious large pieces that have real promise. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

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A Tale of Two Murals

 

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I spent the past week working on a bold new project: a proposal for a two story tall tall mural to be painted under the intersection of the Santa Monica Freeway and the San Diego Freeway in Los Angeles (seen above). Arts Bridging the Gap, a nonprofit group that works with at risk youth, asked me to do this way back in July, the same week I received my settlement from Tesla Motors. I said “Yes” and worked on it halfheartedly in the fall, but I really didn’t make much headway until I took time off from making pots last week to work on it full time on it and get it done. While I feel a bit bad for procrastinating this project for so long, I now know why I had to wait until the slow season to do this. Designing a mural takes a lot of time and effort! My assistant, Christian Hawkins, spent a full three days doing the mockups you see below. This man is a true photoshop wizard and he gets full collaboration credits for coming up with some great ideas for this artwork.

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I’m so excited about this project now! I call it, “Make Your Dream Come True.” The overall concept for the work is to turn a quiet little spot on Sepulveda Boulevard into a magical space that celebrates people who turn their dreams into realities. The textured wall on the bottom seven feet was a real obstacle, but I solved the problem by making it a brain with eyes. The door in the middle was a bonus and I love the way it looks like a door to the third eye. The car-dream-people are based on 1) some of my cartoon characters, 2) drawings submitted by middle school kids and 3) people in my life who have turned their dreams into realities. The bodysurfer on the north wall is my childhood friend, Mike Cunningham who won six world bodysurfing titles in the 1970s and 80s. The “carmonica” man is my uncle Tommy Morgan, a member of “The Wrecking Crew” and the top studio harmonica player in the world for over four decades. The guitar-girl with a crown on her head is of course, singer-songwriter-twitter warrior: Lisa Prank, a.k.a. Robin Edwards.

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We were originally told that we had the space under the freeway, but when I viewed the site on Google Earth, I realized that it needed to spill out into the outer walls of the offramp so drivers would get a glimpse of it as they approached it. Once this design gets Cal Trans approval (which could take up to a year!), the mural will be painted by a team of kids and cops over the space of a weekend. As I was coming up for the ideas for this artwork, it took me back to my days living in this neighborhood. In 1987 Lori and I bought our first house just four miles from the site, and both of our kids were born in Los Angeles. I can hardly wait to get this mural painted!

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And get this! This isn’t the only public art project that I’ve worked on recently. Last December I was contacted by an outfit known as  The Aeternity Drone Graffiti Project. They asked me if I would like to have my artwork spray painted by drones on buildings in Mexico City and I said, “Yes!” What artist wouldn’t want to have flying robots painting their art for them?!!” So I submitted the graphic seen below and I did a couple of interviews via Skype for international news outlets. On February 10th they did the first tests of this bold new technology and the results were interesting.  Next up they will be painting a fifteen story building sometime in April in Mexico City, and I might get the opportunity to go there and see it happen. To see a short video of one of the tests, click this link.

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Here’s what’s happening for the holidays.

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Season’s Greetings! We rolled out the last glaze firing of the year on 12/10 and we’re looking forward to shipping lots of pots this week. We have a pretty good selection of pots in stock right now so if you are just starting your shopping, you’re in luck. Everything in the store is inventory controlled so you can see what’s in stock and what isn’t. Not only that, but the store won’t let you buy something that isn’t in stock. The last day to place orders is Tuesday, 12/18. This is quite firm as the studio is shutting down for the year on the morning of 12/19 and we really really really won’t be able to ship any orders placed after Tuesday, 12/18. There isn’t a secret extra day built into this schedule. I’m outta here on 12/19. Got it?!!!

I’m super-stocked up on unicorn mugs, ornaments and oil bottles so if this year’s hottest item is what you are looking for, jump on over to the “Farting Unicorn” section of my store and we can ship within 24 hours of your placing of an order.  The “Electric cars are good for the environment because electricity comes from magic” mugs come in two designs and two sizes. As of Sunday, December 9th we have plenty of all four modes.

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Cat bowls have been selling really well lately and this new design is a real hit. There are nine different cat bowl designs in my line and they range in price from $24 – $32 each.  As of right now we have all of them in stock in the “cat bowl” section of my online store.

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Here’s a holiday favorite we always make this time of year. I’ve got eight coming out of the kiln tomorrow, but four are spoken for so no guarantees on availability a week from now.  You can find them at the top of the page in the funny mugs section of my store.

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Here’s a whole new series of mugs I made, using a photo decal of Nikola Tesla and turning him into a wacky character who has crazy adventures a la Wally. Shown here is “Tesla buys a Tesla.” There are eight designs in all and you just gotta see them.  Titles like “Tesla’s Roomba vacuum cleaner video goes viral” and “Tesla takes Neil Degrasse Tyson for a spin in his flying hot tub” make these mugs pretty amazing gift items. We’ve got a limited supply but they are inventory controlled in the photo decal section of my online store so if you can buy it, we can ship it for Christmas.

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My latest batch of one of a kind decal pots is getting rave reviews and people are buying them! I’m so excited about this process and will have a new batch of them out at the end of this week. Seen  here are four of my favorites that are still in stock. These are reasonably priced in the $32 – $50 range so jump on over to the photo decal section of my store if you want to get some really unique art items for people on your gift list. And here’s some cool news: I applied to a cup show at Clay Arts Vegas and was thrilled learn that two out of three of the cups I entered were accepted into the show. It starts on January 5, 2019. Here’s to a great new year!

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THE DECALS ARE COMING!!!!

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Yes, as a matter of fact, that is Iggy Pop’s high school photo with a goofy crown on top adorning a sumptuously glazed mug. How did THAT happen?!  Well, I bought a small electric kiln and I’m doing an extra firing with low-fire custom ceramic decals.  And today is the world premier of this new line of work.  There are over twenty of these pieces for sale right now in the “Photo Decal Pots” section of my online store. They are selling for just $32.00 each which is really good considering that each one is unique. Please buy them! I really want to make more. I’ll just post the pics of my favorites below. Stay tuned, as this is the start of a whole new direction in my work!

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This is legendary folk potter, George Ohr. He’s one of my all-time heroes in clay, hence the initials that stand for What Would George Ohr Do?

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I just can’t seem to get away from this Tesla and unicorns thing!

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This is the iconic image of our dearly departed cat, Moocher. He was the Che Guevara of all felines.

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Here’s punk rock legend Iggy Pop at two distinct phases of his life.

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And here’s another rock star who had a significant heyday in the 1970s!

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And these little espresso cups are such wonderful collector’s items! They sell for just $24.00 each. They surely will sell soon, right?

 

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And Speaking of Pottery….

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It’s been almost two months since my last blog post where I announced that we reached an agreement with Tesla Motors and my copyright issue over the farting unicorn graphic was happily resolved. Tweeted by Elon Musk, that post got 53,000 visits the day it was posted. Since then, my assistants and I have been cranking out A LOT OF POTS and we’re almost caught up on all the orders I received from the June-July media blitz. On August 29th, I was part of a panel discussion at The Denver Press Club on copyright issues and art. It was great fun to discuss this topic with Tim Atkinson (lawyer), Lauri Murphy (artist/educator) and John Lebya (photojournalist). This week my interview with Paul Blais on The Potter’s Cast podcast goes up on Tuesday. I’m a huge fan of Paul’s podcast. His mission is to help those of us in the clay community refine our business skills. It was such an honor to be on his show. We discussed my copyright issue with Tesla and my forty years as a professional potter.

The past four months have been a productive, exciting and wild time and my only complaint is that I wish I’d had more time this summer to produce new work and pitch it to my old fans and new customers. This Tesla copyright adventure has been a real turning point in my career and it has totally rejuvenated my spirit as an artist. Now that all the magic unicorn dust is settling, I’m making plans to try a lot of new ideas and to not hold back on my ambitious creative ideas.  This week I’m ordering a new electric kiln so I can launch into the ceramic decal process.  It’s going to take a while to get this off the ground but look for new work in this style to come out in November.

I did get a couple of new mug designs out of my last firing and they are available in my online store. “It’s my birthday and I don’t have to be nice to you.” was inspired by punk song I wrote in a weird dream I had while on vacation in Croatia a couple of years ago. You can buy it in my online store.

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And for all you unicorn fans, we’ve got a new art mug that delves into the dark side of unicorn folklore.  This is a limited edition art mug and we have just two left in stock. Jump on over to my online store to catch one of these:

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Copyright Issue: RESOLVED!

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I am happy to report that we have reached an agreement with Tesla that resolves our issues in a way that everyone feels good about! It’s clear there were some misunderstandings that led to this escalating, but I’m just glad that everything has been cleared up. I’ve always been a Tesla fan, and I’m looking forward to getting back to making pots and selling them in my online store.

I’d also like to announce today is that I will be designing a mural for the “Arts Bridging The Gap’s LA Street Art Initiative in Los Angeles, CA.  Their mission is “to bring top quality arts programs and experiences to children in underserved communities in order to improve their quality of life, academic success and future prospects.”  Their murals are painted by underserved youth and LAPD officers! They approached me last week about doing a unicorn mural possibly in Hawthorne, CA near SpaceX headquarters.  I grew up in this part of Los Angeles and my father and stepfather both worked in aerospace and defense industries in this very neighborhood. I’m excited about designing a happy, fun work of art for the community.

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We’re having a magical ride on this unicorn!

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It’s been a week of madness and magic here at the Wallyware studio, and if I were to pick the one moment that sums up the surreality of it all, it would be Wednesday at 4:30 in the afternoon when I was filling my car with gas and Robin (aka Lisa Prank) texted me this tweet from JK Rowling.  I hadn’t yet seen The Guardian article that put my copyright battle with Tesla Motors into the stratosphere of worldwide public opinion, and my jaw literally dropped. From that moment on it was a really wild ride of media buzz the likes of which us non-wizard clay-covered potters never see. And it’s still going strong at the time of this posting.

Welcome to my crazy little pottery business.  I’ve got some unicorn art I’d like to show you. My famous unicorn mug is for sale here, and there are also some really unusual one of a kind pieces available too, as well as over four hundred other pots with cartoons on them.  The one of a kind items in my store are all inventory controlled so if it says it’s not sold, it’s in stock and ready to ship. The unicorn mug that started it all is backordered until mid-July, but there is lots of other unicornalia still in stock. They can all be found in the “Here’s where you can buy the Farting Unicorn Pots!” section of my store.

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This nine inch bowl is probably my favorite piece in the series and as of early this morning it hasn’t sold yet. It’s a real steal at just $65.00 plus shipping.

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Why hasn’t anybody bought these two yet?!!!  They are totally amazing and just $50.00 each plus shipping.

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At just $45.00 this 9 inch plate is such a deal! I think it must have gone up in value at least 500% in the last few days, but I’m such a humble artist and stupid business person, I’m keeping it at the original asking price.

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It’s such a thrill to have people from all over the world enjoying my artwork right now. I urge you all to go see more than just the unicorn stuff.  I’ve been making pots for a living for forty years now, and my body of work is really something.  Thanks for visiting!

And last but not least, here are the three amazing women that rode that crazy tweet storm with Mr. Musk on Wednesday night. They were in Seattle doing the first show of the new Who Is She? tour. Apparently they were backstage all night laughing like crazy as they tweeted some real zingers about tech bros, rocket launches and copyright law. I’m so proud to have Julia, Robin and Bree on my social media team!

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My Greatest Hits, Part 1.

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This picture was taken 40 years ago, the very month that I started my career as a professional potter. I had already plunked down first and last month’s rent for studio space at Santa Barbara Ceramic Design and was working part time in the freshman orientation program at UCSB, a job that was slated to end in September. Making pottery for a living was my “run away and join the circus” plan for avoiding getting a real job. It was actually a pretty good idea because I had just gotten a degree in art history and the economy in 1978 was absolutely horrible. It was the era of gasoline shortages and high interest rates, not a great time to start a pottery manufacturing business.  I was really lucky to be able to spend all that time during those early years learning the skills that have carried through my career as a potter.

So in the spirit of nostalgia, I’m going to show you some of my favorite pots that I’ve made over the past four decades. Many of these items are still part of my line and for sale in my online store. I present them here in random order, because to do a ranked “top twenty” for art would be a difficult process.

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This is one of the most enduring designs I’ve ever come up with.  I made the first one back in 1985, and when it came out of the kiln I knew I had a big hit on my hands (pun intended). It’s a consistent best seller, and is the epitome of the goofy jokester persona that my work emulates. You can find it in the funny bowls section of my online store.

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Well, yeah! Of course “Electric cars are good for the environment because electricity comes from magic” is gonna be on this list. This mug has a really solid joke and cartoon to begin with, but the fact that one of the most interesting people on the planet tweeted and then “borrowed” the image makes it a crown jewel of my oeuvre. And now there’s an entires section of my online store with farting unicorn pots!

BREAKING NEWS: On Tuesday, June 24th Westword published the story, “Elon Musk is a farting unicorn fan, but blew off creator Tom Edwards”.  Check it out!

 

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Back in November of 2015, I watched a great little British reality TV show called “The Great Pottery Throw Down” and it inspired me to make this bowl set. Here’s the blog about the creation of these pots.  This image now graces my business cards!

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What inspired me to make a series of over sixty original art mugs inspired by David Bowie and Iggy Pop lyrics?!!!  I don’t remember, but the this series from 2013 remains one of my favorite art endeavors ever.  They are all off in private collections now, so if you are a folk are historian from the future looking for them, good luck!

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And speaking of “Fame”, this little gem got me some nice media attention way back in August of 2000 when I won a year’s supply of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream with it! My daughters were eleven and nine years old at the time and it’s now a treasured family memory. Robin and I reminisced it in a Fathers’ Day interview for Westword four years ago. So sweet!

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Wally fans, don’t despair! Your favorite cartoon dog is making the list right now with this classic design that, for me, epitomizes the perfect hot selling coffee mug. I’ve always said that any coffee mug with a joke about coffee will sell well, but this one is truly genius. And I’ve got them in stock right now in the Wally Mugs section of my online store.

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Similarly, I think this is just about the best cat bowl in the world because the joke is so odd and spot on for describing the feline psyche.  These really never sold that well (WHY?!!!) but I like this concept a lot. They are still part of my line, but maybe not forever. You can find them in the cat bowls section of my online store.

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Here’s the first pot I ever made with a cartoon on it! It was a Fathers’ Day gift for my dad way back in 1982 after we did a family field trip to Northrop, where my dad was in charge of developing the software system for the MX Missile. Ahhhh…. it’s the plate that launched my entire focus for decades to come.  You can read more about it in the “About the Artist” section of this site. Thanks, Dad!!!!

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And last but not least for this first half of the trip down memory lane, I present the most labor intensive bowl in my line! You can buy them here and you can see an entire photo essay on how they are made here. A couple of weeks from now, I’ll post the second half of this list.  Stay tuned!

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A Most Unusual Firing.

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I just rolled out a kiln load where 95% of the pots are cartoon free. Why? I had always wanted to burn through all the odds ‘n ends bisque ware that accumulated throughout the years. An experiment with an asymmetrical cup and plate set like the one above seemed like a good idea when I threw it, but I never really got around to seeing it through to the end. Pots like that can tend to haunt you as time goes by and they were messing with the feng shui of my workspace. The past two weeks has been a blur of glazing up all the odd little orphans and finally getting them finished. The firing turned out really nice and the glaze surfaces are excellent.  You can now see over sixty one of a kind items from this series in my online store in a new section appropriately called, “The Odds ‘N Ends Firing”. They are all one of a kind items and reasonably priced in the $12 to $60 range. The ones below are some of my favorites.

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Rudy, Stormy, Kanye and Ted mugs!

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Sometimes I like to think that my job is producing cryptic objects that will confound insect art historians millions of years in the future. When all the wood, metal and computer hard drives have decomposed, it’s the sinks, toilets and coffee mugs that will be the final record of our civilization. Exhibit A: “WTF happened to the United States of America?!!” started as a challenge I made to myself to come up with a Stormy Daniels joke. I really like the way this cartoon captures the way so many of us feel about how our once great democracy has turned into one big weird reality TV show these days.

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Exhibit B: My better instincts came up with this next mug, which grew out of the fact that I’ve been to two political marches already in 2018.  This is rare for me as I’m not much of a marcher. They take too much time and leave me feeling insignificant and futile. And I really hate chanting dumb slogans in unison with strangers. I’m much more of a “letter to the editor” or “make a soapbox coffee mug” kind of guy. This design has gotten rave reviews from my fans and galleries, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be making a lot more of them this year.

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Exhibit C: The insect art historians are going to have a tough time with this one, because I don’t completely understand it myself.  Suffice to say it’s a mashup of two iconic sci-fi shows, X-Files and Westworld. I know I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out whether or not the world we live in is really real anymore. How about you? All three of these new designs can be found in the “Funny Mugs” section of my online store.

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