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1/15/2018        
A Blog of Many Colors
Written by Lorena
Angelo's is more than a pottery studio - it is a family of people who come together and create memories for and with one another.  Some of these memories are quite intentional - others are absolutely accidental.  Many of these memories are beautiful, although at times, they can be touching, thoughtful, even a little sad - we have experiences that run the gamut of emotions. 
        We are more than a pottery studio - we are members of our greater community.  For this year, we will post a weekly blog that shares with you our perspectives, our thoughts, our memories, and the wisdom that we have gained from our interactions with this family -- this community.
        This will serve as an introduction of the bloggers and their ties to the Angelo's team and family.
        This will be our blogging team.  Our stories may resonate with some of you more than with others, but we hope to enrich your memories with some of our own.  Please respond to our blog either on our Facebook messenger of by email at lorena@gjangelos.com <mailto:lorena@gjangelos.com>
        Look for our first blog entry will be from Lyndsay next week.
January 28, 2018
Moments and Memories
Butterflies are Free to Fly . . . Fly Away
Written by Lorena

        "Sister loved butterflies."  This was the introduction that the Angelo's team had to one of our favorite families.  Every year for the last five years, we get a call to book the party room.  The first call, received in 2012, was very emotional - for all of us.  This family wanted to get together and paint in honor of "Sister" who had passed away.  They wanted to paint, to talk, to reflect, and to remember a woman who was so important to all of them.
        The first year they each painted butterflies.  Sister had loved butterflies.  We ordered the winged creatures in for them.  Each of the butterflies was an individual reflection of each family member's memory of Sister.  Some of them were fun, some were beautiful, some brought tears to our eyes as we glazed and fired them.  All of them reflected love and memories, and this remains a beautiful moment for the staff in our studio.  Megan, the artist on duty that first year, was so touched by this family that she volunteered to do something special for their memory plate. It was a beautiful memento.
        That first year, we thought sadly that it would be the only time we came into contact with this lovely family.  But this was not the case.  We have now had five years with them.  "Sister" and the butterfly family have become a yearly encounter that we look forward to every fall and early winter.  They don't all paint a butterfly any longer, but they meet here and eat, and laugh, and cry, and remember "Sister."  As a studio, we look forward to this reunion as well.  Sister left a legacy of love that we have all been fortunate to share in.
Lessons in Art and Everything Else
A Blog
February 12, 2018
Moments and Memories
Fridays, Friends, and Family
Written by Lorena

        According to Elton John, "Friday nights are alright for fighting" - but not at Angelo's.   Friday nights are perfect for bonding, sharing and painting.  We have had many groups of women and men who come in on Fridays to relax after a grueling week of keeping up with their real jobs.  One group that stands out for us is the "Friday Night Girls."   These women have been gathering every Friday evening in one form or another for about 7 years.  There are different forms of this group.  Some Fridays, there have been 9 or 10 of them, some Fridays 2 or 3, and some Fridays a lone girl will sit and paint in solitude and quiet, not bothered by the lack of conversation.

Over 8 years ago a special woman rolled into our old Angelo's building.  She had never been there before, but she brought her grand-children to paint.  They splashed paint on their pieces, but while they rushed to finish, Jenn spent that time falling in love with glazes and color and pottery and painting.  She returned week after week, experimenting with color, texture, and design.  Jenn quickly became one of the Angelo's family and one of our favorite people.  It didn't take long for her to become a favorite of others as well.  She just can't help herself.  If someone was doing something cool, Jenn would go over and ask about it.  She would comment; she would ooze praise; she would make friends.  People began to show up to paint with her, talk with her, and enjoy time with her.   She would invite her friends from work and family.  These new friends invited friends, and they became a predictable and minor phenomenon in our studio.

This is a diverse group of women (and occasionally men) who have all manner of jobs and backgrounds.  Many of them have come to know, support, and love one another in our studio.  Pottery is the least of why they are there.  They will often choose a piece and spend weeks finishing it, taking their time because the company is more important than the pottery. They share a pot luck dinner at Angelo's every year just before Christmas.  They talk about everything and nothing.  They laugh, cry, celebrate, and mourn with one another.  We have lost a couple of girls over the years and still miss them and talk about them. We have watched many of the others struggle and watched their lives change.  The support they offer one another is nothing short of fantastic.

The Friday Night Girls are not customers only - they become friends and family.
March 6, 2018
Moments and Memories
The Heart and Soul of the Angelo's Experience
Written by Lorena
I keep in touch with the studio owners around the country and I, without a doubt, have the best staff.  The artists of Angelo's work tirelessly to make every experience "right," every child "happy," and every party "perfect." They do this for the love of art, for the love of Angelo's, and for the love of each other.  They step up when someone needs them to and rush in to make Angelo's the best pottery studio in Colorado.
Late at night, after the studio is closed, you often see the lights still shining.  The staff may be inside having a paint night together.  Megan puts henna on someone or paints nails.  Bari busts open the snacks, Taren makes snarky comments about Andrea singing or dancing - or leaves the snarky comments aside and joins her - and Darian is ranting about the direction of the heads on the dollar (giving a subtle nod to Viviana who has left us for college).  Rayna who is intrinsically the "mother hen" of the group, clucks over everyone, checking and rechecking to make sure everyone is having a good time.   They are all laughing and painting and creating their own memories of Angelo's.
I feel this is a great time to introduce our newest member of the family.  We have just added Chelsea to our staff who is an extraordinary baker (can I hire or what?!).  She is a little sassy and an enormously talented artist.  She will fit right in. 
Perhaps I am the only one who can write this particular blog entry.  I have hired and fired for Angelo's for almost 9 years now, and it is, without a doubt, the most unique work environment I've ever encountered.  The staff is almost exclusively female at this time, with the exception of Lynn who motors to the back to the office in hopes he can just work in peace and not be called upon to bus tables.  Greg, Zack, and Chris have all for for a time and gone their own way, leaving just us girls.
Because of other experiences that I have had, I know with unimpeachable confidence that women often hate working with one another.  They gossip and titter and back stab (you girls know what I am talking about).  So imagine my surprise to find that the girls at Angelo's defy all of those common tendencies.  They truly love one another - staff after staff - year after year.  They gossip about the latest "bachelor," titter about nail polish, and threaten to back stab any male who treads upon one of their hearts. They constantly offer solutions to our current isses and come up with new ways to improve our studio. 
The members of my staff are devoted to each other, and I am lucky enough to have them devoted to Angelo's as well.  This is a nod to my girls.  Thank you.
April 2, 2018
Walkin' the Line
Written by Lorena
I wasn't born to run a business. In all honesty, I'm not sure that I do run Angelo's.  I really think that Angelo's runs me.  Small businesses are interesting creatures.  They own you.  Completely.  But . . . for a business-like Angelo's, the joy of offering the community makes up for the long hours and periodic headaches.
Angelo's has an added layer of human texture that most businesses don't experience.  Unless they are doing canvas, our customers come into contact with us twice.  We get to know them through our helping them with their pottery and through their art and their creations.  But the best part, for us, is the joy and surprise when customers come back to pick up their pottery.  We love to see sheer happiness, and we are blessed with mostly positive interactions.
I taught English and Art History for almost 30 years.  I loved and cherish my relationships with these "humans in progress."  Angelo's is a completely different gig.  In a completely different way, I am loving my new job and my new life.  Making people happy speaks to my soul.
During the 8 years that I spent both teaching and managing the studio, I was walking a thin line, trying to stay in step all of the time.  I have finally jumped off the line and become fully engaged in expanding Angelo's further into the community.  We have so much to offer, and wonderful facility in which to offer it.
So I step into this new phase of my life, determined to do better.  Since I really don't know what I should be doing, I am offering more programs, programs that I would like to participate in.  more classes - more regularly.  I want to offer our party room (that just got a face lift) as a place where groups of adults can find a space to bring their food and drink and enjoy the painting and the people and the conversations in our private space.  Stepping way out of the walls of our studio and out of my comfort zone, I am connecting to other businesses in town to bring some alternative off site entertainment to them as well.
In the meantime, we are rethinking our wedding packages and party room packages and rolling out new offers continually.  Ideas and change are swarming around us, but we are holding on fast to the things that our customers have liked about us: our staff, our music, our customer loyalty program, our extraordinary selection, our atmosphere, Killin' it in the Kiln, and so much more.
It was scary to step off the line and commit to a new kind of work, and I have no idea how many of our ideas will wind up being useful, but I do feel that I have landed on my feet thanks to the incredible staff and customers I have around me.
BLOG
April 15
Where the Magic Happens
Written by Lorena

Customers are rarely allowed to venture beyond the double doors at the back of our studio.  The imposing sign which reads, "No Customers Beyond these Doors!" might be the reason.  The sign is to keep people away from kilns that may or may not be hot, but really the mystery of pottery - which has been around since before the ancient Greeks - is better if it remains a mystery.
If you believe that, stop reading now because I am about the demystify it. I am about to lift the veil and reveal the process behind the magic.
When you leave your "baby" with us, it goes back to sit on some red "spikey" mats where it dries for a whole day or more.  The pottery is sorted and treated according to what kind of glaze you used.  The clay-based glazes are loaded directly into the kiln when they dry and so are the matte glazes.  We don't do anything to them at all.  The glitters are dipped in a small, and rather smelly, bucket of top glaze that we only use for glitter because glitter is like a really unpleasant virus:  once it is set loose, it goes everywhere, willy nilly, there's no stopping it.  We have to control where it has been, so that the rest of the pottery doesn't contract the glitter virus.
The regular underglazes - our famous wall of frogs - are separated from the speckles.  All of the pieces that have regular color on them are dipped into clear glaze which turns them a soft blue color.  It looks really scary, but the blue is what turns to glass in the kiln at high temperatures.  It makes everything glossy and food safe.
After the regular color is dipped, the speckled pieces are dipped and the dip is strained to remove the speckles that may have fallen off.   All of the glazed works of art dry on the red racks for 12 to 24 hours and then are carefully loaded onto spiked kiln "furniture" before firing.  The kiln furniture keeps the pottery from firing to the kiln shelf.
Loading a kiln is a little bit like playing Tetris and a little bit like putting together a puzzle.  Everything must fit in according to height and width to make the most of every firing.  Heavy shelves are used to build different levels in the kiln.  Then, when it is as full as it can get, we fire it up to almost 2000 degrees.  The whole cycle takes about 24 hours.  When it is cool enough, we open the kiln and unload.  The pottery is pulled free from the spikes and dremelled to remove the sharp edges of glass.
Voila!  When you pick up the piece, the plugs are in the banks, the handles are on the lanterns, the backs are on the frames, and you are handed a finished piece of pottery.
Fairy dust it is not.  But the process is almost as old as civilization and hasn't changed that much.  We've added some color options (about 100 of them) and a little electricity, but it still manages to feel a lot like magic.

Lorena
Lyndsay
Bari
Viviana
May 4, 2018
The Value of Art and the Artist
 A Ramble by Lorena
So, after 15 years of putting our kids through college, we are finally free of tuition obligations.  It feels . . . well, I'm not gonna lie, fabulous!  At any rate, this isn't about that.  It is about Allisyn's college graduation.

On the 11th of May, Allisyn will be graduating from Cal Arts with an MFA in Applied Design.  Many of you will remember her as the cheery blonde sprite who always worked Angelo's with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.  She loved, still loves, the studio.  She was not - as far as anyone knew - an artist.   She comes home now and looks at some of the painting that she did before leaving for college, and she is amazed at how far she has come.

But alas, this blog is not really about Allisyn.  It is about art.  I am not an artist -- I am a business owner, but nevertheless, I'm always befuzzled by the students that I have encountered and customers who are regulars with us who would love to "do art" for a living but figure that no one does that.  On the contrary, many people do that every day.  Who do you think creates the sets behind each singer on The Voice?  Who do you think designs and creates the sets for those fabulous shows in Las Vegas - Lynn and I recently went to see Elton John and we were amazed by the technosets that he used - a different one for every song.  Who do you think creates the wonders of Disneyland and Disney World?  The answer to all of these is artists.  Doing art for a living is not only possible, but it is quite often lucrative.  You just have to be willing to live where the art takes you.

We are living in a world where the only thing we seem to value is science and math.  Everyone else is devalued because their skill isn't in line with our technologically advancing mindset.

Allisyn is hoping to work in themed entertainment and to be on a design team for a major amusement park.  She wants to design and execute experiences such as the Hogwarts, The Forbidden Journey for people from around the world. That is a real job with a real focus, and better yet, in the meantime, she gets to "do art."  I'm perplexed and bewildered by people who believe that they must be miserable to be considered successful.

We love Angelo's because we get to watch art bring people together - whether it is companies who are attempting to tighten up their teams or families who are reuniting and reacquainting.  We see art introduce new couples to one another as they chat over a mug.  We watch art pull teenagers away from their cell phones long enough to create something with their hands, some real, something tangible, something that they will remember longer than the next Snapchat photo.

In many ways, art is more important than math.  It brings us together.  It is part of the entertainment experience and human equation.  It may not solve global warming, but it will be there to comfort us as we encounter the ever-changing playing field of our world.





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