Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good-bye, 2015; Hello, 2016!

I had a goal at one time, to post to my blog on a weekly basis. There have been times I've come close - I posted 51 times in 2012 - and even exceeded my goal (57 posts in 2011). I fell pretty far short in 2013 but 2014 and 2015 were not banner years - there were a lot of challenges (I could tell you all about the "Rolling Catastrophe" of 2014's last four months but I won't) and a lot of things fell by the wayside. But this is 2016. So, I'm going to set some modest goals (I'm not telling) and see if I can do a bit better this time around.

Management Team Updates

We had a lot of changes in the past two years - we added two cats in 2014 (Magnus, trapped in my garage in March, and Rufus, trapped on the front porch in
August) and lost one (Princess Nur, just before Christmas). We added another cat - Sekhmet Zephyr - in August of last year, bringing us back up to full Management Team strength after some time of management shortfalls. Most importantly in this context, Magnus took on the Feline Supervisor in Charge position vacated by Gus's passing in 2009. We have a policy of promoting from within the organization but no one wanted the job. It took us over five years to secure the perfect candidate - and we're so glad we waited for him to come along! There are still occasional differences of opinion within management's ranks but having a strong, steadfast individual at helm has had a tremendous impact.

New Platform/New Look

With changes to the e-mail platform I had been using for many years - especially in terms of limits on numbers of e-mails, etc., I decided to change over to MailChimp to communicate with our supporters. I rolled out the first newsletter - complete with Iconic Sunflower banner - earlier this month and have already scheduled the next newsletter for February 1. I will be (hopefully) sending these out on a monthly basis, not only highlighting Black Cat Pottery events but other programs that might be of interest, including film series, conferences and tours in the metro-Detroit area and beyond. If you'd like to receive our newsletter, please e-mail with your first and last names at cenglish@blackcatpottery.com. Also, visit and "Like" our Facebook page (see the link to the left) for more up-to-the-minute developments.

Black Cat Pottery on the Road - and Beyond

Silver Maple Serving Suite
Our biggest challenge so far this year is the upcoming ACRE show in Philadelphia - Black Cat Pottery's first ever wholesale show. I've had the help of my amazing mentor Nora, as well as so many member of my family of choice - Theresa, Catherine, Don, Dylan, Glenda - I can't hope to name all of them here. (Suffice to say, this would not be happening without their varied assistance.) We'll be featuring selections of Black Cat Pottery's Applied Leaf Serving Pieces as well a sampling of Deluxe Sunflowers at this massive event.

Black Cat Pottery is currently available at a number of locations in Michigan - and beyond; check the listing to the left. Our newest retailer is Dove Tail Arts in Galesburg, IL. Bernie Hamilton has been a delight to work with and I'm looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with this top-notch business. Look for availability updates in blog posts, on Facebook, in the newsletter -  and be sure to look at the list to the left to see who else has joined the family.

New Programs

Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina) with
Bumble bee
I'm always looking for new program ideas, whether new speaking topics, new pottery workshop projects or new hands-on programs for our garden tours. I just rolled out my new talk on gardening for pollinators - "Pollinator Preservation Strategies for the Home Garden: Native Plants and their Unique Relationships with Beneficial Insects" - at the January meeting of the Southeast Michigan Butterfly Association. I'll be rolling out a talk on Spring Wildflowers at the February meeting of the Meadowbrook Garden Club. If you'd like information regarding my programs, drop me an e-mail and I'll get that to you.

I also hold a number of pottery workshop in the studio, suitable for everyone from the novice to the experienced potter. I'm planning a Fancy Sunflower Workshop for March - stay tuned for dates. If you and a group of your friends are interested in a workshop, just drop me a line and I'll do my best to work with you to put together a program. I'm also thinking of doing some other workshops - a Mason Bee House and maybe a Bird and Bug Box program. Again, stay tuned to the blog, Facebook and our newsletter for more information

So, there's a lot going on - I hope to see you this year to share in the excitement!

All photos by Don Schulte except image of Magnus, Rufus and Dora.