#instagram – #BOOM

It was about time to do this: https://www.instagram.com/curtinscreations/
I’m going to try posting images of work in progress, mugs full of latteart, bowls full of soup, and more. Because what use is pottery unless its used?

(Now if only I could figure out how to embed the feed as a widget instead of just inside a post…)

Siteground update broke WordPress

So… after some struggle, I figured out why this site was completely broken. Thanks to a “helpful” update by my provider, this little line was removed from wp-config.php.

require_once(ABSPATH . 'wp-settings.php');

As a result, I was getting errors:
Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp() in wp-blog-header.php

Once I added it back at the end of the file, all is well again. The best I can think is that it was an artifact of my provider’s autoupdate, because this was in the file in its place:
# Disables all core updates. Added by SiteGround Autoupdate:
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

I’m putting this out online in the hopes that someone else will find it, and it will help them too! (Because it was crazy…) Good luck wordpressers!

Marketing/Social Media thoughts

Trying a few things to drive traffic, specifically to Etsy (since that’s where actual sales happen.)

Using Happy Sunday (https://www.happysundayonetsy.com) to auto-relist two pieces on a schedule. I’ve got one relisting every two hours from 8am-7pm, and one every day at about 11am. For what its worth, I’ve seen a sharp increase in people favoriting the pieces being relisted, as well as increased viewing of other pieces, but so far not an increase in purchasing. (Welcome to Etsy-as-usual.)

Today I switched over to my (Curly Creatures Facebook Page) and liked a bunch of posts in the Pottery Heads Group. (For some reason, I can’t comment or post to the group as a Page? Is that normal? I couldn’t find a way to join either.) In any case, I’ll watch for a spike in traffic due to this.

Later this week, I’ll try posting some links to my Etsy work in the Pottery Heads group, and see what happens there. I feel like especially with some of the more unusual stuff, this could generate some good interest. I’ll also post a shot of a piece or two that the glaze has crawled on, and ask if people like that effect. To me, I don’t usually love it because I recognise it to be a flaw, but it does give an interesting look, and a lot of people seem to like it quite a bit. (And I’ve had a few pieces that I actually did like it on, so…)

Have online strategies that have worked well for you? Tell me about them!

A lesson for webmasters…

A lesson that I shouldn’t have needed to learn: backup your site before doing any upgrades. I know better. It had been a while since I updated my WordPress install, so I clicked the button… done! Hmm – themes have updates too, no problem, I’ll do that…

It didn’t even occur to me that changing the theme would totally break my custom code – the new version of Atahaulpa disabled embedded php code. Suddenly, main page of the site = blank white nothing. Sometimes its good for the mind to be a blank slate, but not so much when that’s what the rest of the world sees.

So… working on fixing things here. In the meantime, the main page now directs to this blog instead of Finished Work.

Speaking of finished work, I’ve got all of my stoppers up on my Etsy page. A lot of work lately on functional stuff – some great bowls and new glazes I’m really happy with. One of my Creatures has gotten a gold-leaf upgrade (I’m struggling not to put gold leaf on everything now.) And I’m working up the best way to make custom handles for high-end espresso tampers… Fun stuff afoot! Right after I fix this site.

Be sure to Bid for the Barn!

Hey everyone –

the Bid for the Barn is going amazingly well. They’ve received a huge outpouring of support from Vermonters, both as donations and as bidders. Its gratifying to live in a place where this is true!

The donated stopper got into a bit of a bidding war earlier in the week, and went to almost 20% over its value. Nice validation, and a great donation! I’m hoping there’s another push once we get closer to the auction’s close on the 30th, but honestly I don’t really expect this to go higher. (When anyone can just come here and buy one at normal price.)

In hindsight, in the future I may try donating a custom-designed item to create some extra value to the buyer.

In the meantime, stoppers are rolling on again after a bit of a hiatus. I have a few new ones out for bisque, and some great ideas. (I’ll be pursuing the lamp finial idea, for one thing. I need to stop by Conant Brass and see what they can machine for me.)

Stoppers in the wild, The Artist’s Bullhorn progress

Display Stand with stoppers and Moo cards

Display Stand with stoppers and Moo cards

Some great progress lately! My wine stoppers are finally in the wild. There are three gracing a favorite restaurant in downtown Burlington, VT (“Blue Cat Cafe“), a gaggle soon to be for sale in a local wine shop (“Dedalus Wines“), and plans for more! Along the way, I received a full batch of stands that look great, including a new design for point-of-sale displays. And a new batch of Moo cards.

I also pulled in all of my Curly Creatures to my Finished Work page. How? Just one click, actually. (Cool.) See below for more.

I’ve also made some huge strides with the website (“The Artist’s Bullhorn“) that’s helping me (and soon to be others too) tell the world about all of these creations. You’re seeing it embedded in my WordPress site when you click on the “Finished Work” tab – all of the product browsing is done real-time using Bullhorn. Behind the scenes though – that’s where most of the magic is happening.

I now have full support for both Etsy and Smugmug – once an item is in Bullhorn, I can post it to its own Smugmug album with just a few clicks. I can then create an Etsy listing (which will of course contain a link to that new album) with another few clicks.

I’ve got some great utilities for managing my Etsy items as well – I can mass renew, change listing states, and see tons of info on all of my items. I can also import items from Etsy straight into Bullhorn, including all of their photos, tags, materials, etc. (That’s how I imported nine items with one click. I still say that’s pretty damn cool…)

What’s next? More debugging, as well as support for Twitter (almost there) and Facebook.

Website progress

Some major work lately on website stuff. Over time, I’ve been realizing that it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to list new products. I wanted to send them to Etsy, make a smugmug album, post them to facebook, and tweet… and despite being a pretty tech-savvy guy, it just wasn’t happening. Certainly, I wasn’t updating them all in anything like a timely way. And definitely not making the effort to make them point at each other…

Knowing that other artists must be having the same problem, I sat down and started coding. The result is almost ready to release, but you can see part of it already here when you click the “Finished Work” tab. Live browsing of everything I’ve got in the tool so far.

What you can’t see is the extra tools I have available to me as the artist. I can log in, edit any of these items, and then post them to etsy, smugmug, and soon facebook, twitter, and whatever else I can think of. Updates – just click a button. And any time I upload somewhere new, the link to new stuff gets added to what I’ve already done. So, the etsy listing gets a link to the smugmug album. And vice-versa. Ditto for facebook. (Twitter, I think, I’ll just be sending here, but that’ll be an option too.)

Its super-cool, if I do say so myself.

Moo cards arrive, more Etsy postings, pricing thoughts

Fun fun fun!  The Moo mini cards I ordered arrived in fantastic time – less than a week turnaround.  (Man, if only they could teach Ponoko that trick…)

Moo Mini cards arrive!

I have to say too – the quality of these things is just fantastic.  Nice and thick cardstock with a protective laminate on each card.  I love that I could put multiple front photos in the pack – as soon as anyone looks at them they instantly want to browse and pick their favorites.  Plus the print quality is high, the carrying/shipping box they used is very solid, and the whole process was done with style.  I’ll definitely be ordering from them again soon!

Two more stoppers went up on Etsy today too: Prong and Bogart.

I’ve been working a fair amount on figuring out the best prices, and I think I’ve got things set about where they should be. I dropped prices on the Curly Creatures, and have the stopper prices spread from $35 to $55. I still have to do a full accounting of costs so far, but getting everything started has cost enough that I’ll need to move a fair number of pieces before I’m covered. I really do feel like there’s a good market for these buggers though (stoppers especially), and especially once people can touch and feel them… gonzo!

Check out the etsy shop and let me know what you think! I’d really enjoy the input. 🙂

Once the Ponoko stands finally show up, hopefully they’ll fit well enough to bring a set by a few different shops in town and see what people think. (I’ll want to order more too, but only after getting impressions of restaurant and store owners…)

Newsflash: Handmade Ceramic Wine Bottle Stoppers storm Etsy!

Booyah. After quite some time creating them, figuring out what stopper to use, what epoxy works best, taking photos, organizing the photos, picking just the best for each one, writing up descriptions… the first stoppers have made their way to the Etsy marketplace!

Check out the wine stopper category in my store: CurtinsCreations.etsy.com (or just click on one over in the right-hand Etsy sidebar of this page.)

I really had fun writing up the descriptions of each. Hopefully they’ll find some good homes! (But if not… they’re more than welcome to stay in mine!)

Picasso wine bottle stopper in hand

Picasso wine bottle stopper in hand

Website and email access is back!

After some time of not being able to access the website (or my email) from my home network, I was finally able to get everything updated to work again today. Whew! (And as an added benefit, if it happens again, now I know why…)

So – there’s been some progress lately – I’ll get some info up and posted soon.