Tag Archives: online shopping

Announcing our new Canadian Amazon aStore!

If you live in Canada, it is fall and the days are growing longer. What better time to nestle by the fire with a good book, to listen to some new music, or to work on your art projects? And it’s going to get chilly…rainy…or snowy. Well, now you don’t have to even leave the comfort of your home to shop for your art supplies! It is perfect timing for the Grand Opening of Jane Street Clayworks’ new Canadian Amazon storefront.

Over time, I will be researching and offering the best that is available on the Amazon.ca site,  material relevant to ceramics, pottery, sculpture, creativity, and art appreciation. Everything under one umbrella, convenient, and created to serve you. Eventually, I would like to offer as many things as I can that are made in Canada. In addition, I will be mindful of the best deals, materials, sources. I am truly excited about my Canadian Amazon aStore!

Built expressly for Jane Street Clayworks, this aStore currently features the following:

  • Books (The Books section includes print matter pertaining to ceramics, pottery, or sculpting. Also included are materials on creativity and art appreciation. In addition, there is a special section for books with Canadian content.)
  • Business (The Business section includes media focusing on business topics relevant to ceramics, pottery, or sculpting.)
  • Digital (The Digital section will include DVDs [NTSC format], CDs and MP3s. Chosen topics are relevant to ceramists, potters, sculptors. In addition, for those interested, there is also material focusing on creativity and art appreciation. Note: Kindle books are available through the Amazon aStore (US $), found on the blog toolbar.)
  • Storage (The Storage section focuses on containers for storing and transporting tools.)
  • Tools (The Tools section spotlights items used to produce work made from clay.)

Please take a look at our new aStore! The color theme is different because I want you to easily tell it apart from the US version. The index runs below the gallery, so scroll on down.


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Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Forget the big box stores; choose e-commerce with artisans in N. America & Europe!

Dollar sign (reflective metallic)It’s such a scary sounding term: Black Friday. Anyone hearing it for the first time would think thoughts of doom, but it really refers to retail sales so high that accounts are no longer in the red, but in the black. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States. It’s the day after American Thanksgiving and heralds the beginning of Christmas shopping. Millions of shoppers will be thundering toward malls across the U.S. and not a parking space in sight!  In addition, we now also have Cyber Monday, the big online shopping day that follows Black Friday (that follows turkey day). But, global shoppers can choose to take the road less traveled… Forget the big box stores and, instead, let’s shop the artisans at e-commerce sites. Because of the internet and online sales, we can all take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and many online stores have promotions for both days. Below are sites relevant to us, featuring potters, ceramists, and clay crafters. I’m also including sites from the UK and France (featuring their Christmas markets) along with some blog posts with links to other artisan sites. Good luck and happy shopping!

Black Friday
Cyber Monday

DaWanda (UK)

DaWanda (France)

Black Friday Sites
Cyber Monday sites

Posts and Articles

10 Great Websites to Buy Handmade Goods

UK Sites Like Etsy

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Beautiful Craftsmanship: Ceramic Board Games

My family traveled cross-country often and we played games like “I See Something” on the road. When at home, my little brothers and I could often be found  huddled around a classic game board game. Then, when our family visited my mother’s relatives, we’d all sit around grandma’s big table for a game, usually during the holidays. These days, when I go home, no trip is complete without packing as many people as we can around a game.

GO SETS: In the late 70s, I learned the rudiments of Go, the ancient Asian game of strategy that is somewhere around 4000 years old. Go is more complex than chess; a person could spend a lifetime learning it. Go stones were originally made of natural materials, often clay. A Pictorial History of the Game of Go does just that and it’s definitely worth looking at for learning the background about this ancient game. Here’s a beautiful photo from olden days of Koreans playing the game. The British Master Games site carries high quality go bowls made of beech and limewoods. It’s true…you can spend a lot of moolah on a fine Go set, but you don’t have to unless you want to. The Go

Game Store sells inexpensive porcelain and ceramic stones. People become very serious about Go and the game is now a highly refined art, as the site, Sensei’s Library attests. Stones have been made of slate, shell, glass, quartz, agate, marble, jade, bone, wood, and ceramics. Feeling the weight and coolness of Go stones in your hand is a much more aesthetically-pleasing experience than using a computer program or playing online. The sensory experience is part of the game.

CHESS GAMES: An ancient game, at least 2000 years old, chess games originated in India. Because chess sets and boards are made up of different pieces, it means there’s more latitude for artistic interpretation. From what I can tell, depending upon the era and country, there have been many styles of chess pieces.

Some quality chess sets are fine art, so exacting is the work and craftmanship, so beautiful the designs, so lovely the materials. The Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, Washington, on the Columbia River, has a permanent exhibit of chess sets. Among its pieces is a set depicting the Madonna. The set is made of jasperware and wedgewood and it is exquisite. I must have been a teenager when my brother, Steve, taught me how to play chess. I have not kept it up but I am now inclined to take another look, as many of the pieces I’ve seen are objects of beauty and it would be a pleasurable experience to play with such pieces. I like marine biology and one of the most amazing chess sets I’ve come across is Meissen’s porcelain Sea Life set.  One is being auctioned off online and the starting bid is 4000 pounds… and is expected to garner anywhere from 8000 to 12,ooo pounds. A famous set designed by Max Esser in 1923, it’s described as having”one side a coral colour, the other side grey and white, kings and queens as sea anemones, bishops as lobsters, knights as sea horses, rooks as octopi, pawns as starfish, the king 8cm high, the pawn 1.5cm high,” according to the auction site. Closer to home and more accessible is a company called Clay Chess which makes contemporary sets. I like the “Down on the Farm”…it has little yellow ducks for pawns! These chess sets made in Kitchener, Ontario can be purchased online. The “Cottage Life” set includes frogs and loons…such a neat idea. They also make checker pieces which are quite nice. I especially like the ones with maples leaves. If you are interested in making your own chess set, eHow has a nice how-to article which will teach you how to make your own set with oven-hardening clay. There is no reason why you couldn’t follow the same set of instructions for your own ceramic set. I think it’d be great to have a game you made yourself and I might just make a one of my own!

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Stuff & Junk: Ceramic tool storage/transport

CARRY-ALL: I had been driving to the Open Studio because my supplies were too heavy to tote, especially if I was carrying clay. I wanted to walk and it always made me feel silly driving, since the art centre is only three or four blocks away. So, I decided to get some kind of a rolling cart with telescoping handle. I did a lot of comparison shopping and found what I wanted. It cost $43.40 Cdn and the shipping was only $10. It’s called a ‘Stow-away Folding Caddy.’ Basically, it’s a folding crate on wheels with a telescoping handle. As the photo shows, it’s quite slim when folded and it will carry 50 lbs. I bought it through Canadian Office Supplies and am very happy with it. I store it in the car, at the base of the hill and, when I go to the studio, I carry my supplies down the stairs to the car, open the crate, plop everything inside, then roll on down the hill. I might have found one in the U.S. that was less expensive, but then I’d have to deal with shipping hassles (see Postage Dilemmas below).

HOBBY STORE BLUES: I had been hauling my ceramic tools  in a plastic food container. It was big and everything fit; however, I noticed that the lid popped off when it was transported to the studio in my new rolling crate. Nothing fell out of the crate and it was dry and cold that day, but usually it’s rainy and I want something that will stay shut. So, today, when I was at Michaels Arts and Crafts looking for candle wicking, I looked around. I found the wicking for my clay olive oil lamps. I also wanted to see if I could buy a styrofoam cone I wanted to use for a form for a clay bird house I’m making. Well, I did find one, but it was $25. No kidding. So, I’m going back to the drawing board and will make a cone of cardboard, stuff it with tightly crumpled newspapers, then cover the whole thing with plastic, then duct tape it.

STORAGE CONTAINER: While at Michaels, I came across some storage containers for scrapbooking supplies that were 40% off. My kind of deal! So, I bought one very similar to this Iris Storage Container. Mine is 8.5″x14″, has adjustable dividers, is made by Everything Mary and was on sale for $8. It’s a single-layer storage case. I had thought about buying a fishing tackle box, but didn’t think I needed anything that big. So, now my new storage case is full of my tools and the lid has clasps and will stay shut. There are other ways to look at storage for clay tools and I really like these cotton roll pouches from Whole Lotta Whimsy. I imagine this style of pouch has been used for clay tool storage for centuries. The site caters to jewelry makers but we could use this pouch just as easily for our clay tools. Moving on, my friend Joan uses a plastic tote for her tools and, while I’m sure you can find this type of thing many places in your locale, I found this one to show you what I’m talking about. It’s called Tote Max and I found it on the Plumbers Surplus site. I like the choice of colors and it sells for $12.29 US. You could probably find something like this at a dollar store for less but you’d have to check to see if it would be durable enough. I like the idea of a tote because if your tools are wet, it will allow for air drying. For a little more heft, I found this Stanley toolbox. It is only $9 US through Amazon.com. You can’t go wrong with a Stanley. I like the lift out tray but the thing I like best is the metal clasp. I have had tool boxes that had plastic clasps that broke off, so I’d go with something like this next time if I were to get one. The thing about tools, any tools, is that they need to be cared for and, if they are, they will be there next time for you to use.

POSTAGE DILEMMAS: It’s always tricky because many of these places ship from the U.S. Beware, because if your your items are shipped UPS, when the UPS delivery guy arrives, they will exact a whopping C.O.D. called a ‘handling fee.’ The fee is a loophole in the border laws that basically allows UPS to hold your item hostage as you stand on your front doorstep. Unless you run to get your credit card and pay up, you won’t get your package. It works the same way with items shipped to the U.S. by UPS. So, Canadians and Americans, beware. Some of the fee is Customs duty, but the main part is the ‘ransom.’ So, read the fine print and try to have your goods shipped by a different method. I feel quite lucky that my heavy crate on wheels was freighted all the way from Ontario for only ten dollars!

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