Sam Hitchman Ceramics

The woes of 2018

If you’ve been to the “Where to Buy” tab of my site here recently, you might have noticed that this year, Ive had to cancel many of my shows. This year started off well, and quickly took a turn for the worse, and unfortunately, has yet to recover. I wanted to share some of this with you all,  to and explain why I havent been able to keep up with my normal business.

It all started back in April while I was down in Knoxville at the Dogwood Arts Festival; my loyal companion Mosa had a GI episode which landed her in the  Vet ER for the night, and us with a huge bill. It was seeming like I might have had to break down my booth in the middle of the night, to drive home and put down my dog. Thankfully, even though she has had another episode since then, she is holding strong, and acting herself.

A couple weeks following is really when things took a turn for the worst; a pretty gnarly head cold caused me to have to cancel my attendance to Round the Fountain in Lafayette IN, and while I was beginning to recover from the head cold we had a flood in our condo and my studio. A neighbor, who has an adjoining wall to our condo, had a pipe burst in their basement which flooded their unit, and as well, our basement, where my studio is located. Thankfully it was only a 1/4″ of water which made it’s way under the wall and into our unit, but as anyone who has dealt with water damage will tell you, 1/4″ is enough to make a BIG mess.

A few days after the flood happened I had to set up for Summerfair, one of my favorite shows of the year! Unfortunately, while setting up a accident occurred where one of the small-ish poles of my canopy caught me in the eye. I was in the back of my van when I heard the poles, which were leaning in the corner, starting to fall. As I was turning to catch them, I turned my head right into the pole, and didn’t even see it coming. It slipped under my glasses, and into my eye socket. I was somewhat stunned from the incident, but I immediately pulled the pole out of my eye, doubled over and cupped a hand under my eye. All I could feel in my hand was warm and wet, and I couldn’t see; I honestly thought I was holding my eye in my hand! Thankfully, some wonderful Summerfair organizers were right out front of my booth and they called the Coney Island Emergency Crew which came to help me. Long story short, and numerous trips to the ER, Optometrists, cat scans, x rays……THANKFULLY, and oh so luckily, I did no permanent damage to my vision. An avulsion on the outer and inner lid leaves me with a nice scar, and a 1/2″ long laceration on my conjunctiva (which healed quite rapidly) was all the damage I had done. Unfortunately, even that evening my eye had swollen shut, and the pain was intense, so the next day, we went down in the morning to collect my vehicle and belongings from Summerfair, and informed them that I would have to cancel that show as well. All in all, I am so thankful to still have my eye, and still have use of it as I was VERY close (talking millimeters) to losing my vision.

A little over a week after the incident and my eye lid avulsion is practically non existent.

Even though the skin, and eye itself heals very rapidly, I was bloodshot for weeks later.












So, while trying to rest and heal from my eye injury, Servpro had come on site, and begun the remediation process. I had to muster enough strength and pain medicine to do as much personal belongings removal, and studio clear-out as I could. Thankfully, aside from having to find, interview, background check, meet with, and review estimates from numerous contractors/movers/laborers/etc, deal with insurance adjusters, consequently hire an attorney and deal with them, tackle all the other associated headaches of a flood, all while trying to still keep my business afloat,  nothing else happened for a few weeks.

We traveled to State College Pennsylvania and had a nice time at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, and nothing bad happened! ….Wait, darn it, spoke too soon…24 hours after returning from State College I was in the van, after making a deposit at the bank, ready to depart for Ann Arbor for another show, when, wouldn’t you know it, the van conks out on me! Apparently, when your shifter linkage fails, the only gear you get to select is Reverse! (oh, an when you sit in your vehicle in front of a bank for three hours, security does get called as they think you’re casing the joint!) Now I’ve got an oversized vehicle, which is parked in a TIGHT mall parking lot, that is loaded with well over 2 tons of inventory and display, that needs to be towed about 20 miles to the dealer to be serviced. Let me tell you, it was a white knuckle tow (both mine and the driver’s) down to the dealership, but we made it there in one piece.

About four hours later I found a rental van, unloaded my much bigger van, into a much smaller van, and was on my way to Ann Arbor. As if things couldn’t get worse, I find out on the way there, that the hotel I booked three months earlier no longer has my reservation. Even though Heather booked another one that day, we didn’t find out until Midnight, when we arrived at our second choice hotel, that a confirmation number, and reserved booking through doesn’t mean anything, as they sold out weeks ago and we can take a hike! Two very tired, very stressed, very angry artists are not the people you want to tell to go “F” off in the middle of the night when their hotel reservation doesn’t mean anything! Well, as Murphy’s law goes, the only room we can find in town still available is $300/night; we book the suite, and enjoy the expensive comforts of having two TV’s and two Toilets in a room! You’d think that $300/night would get you free breakfast too…oh, dear naive person, how wrong you are! Aside from Mosa having her second episode of GI issues while we were in Ann Arbor(thankfully we have a wonderful pet sitter), all went well and we made it home safe and sound.

Unfortunately, even though our spring/summer had been filled with one calamitous event after another, the worst was yet to come. Our good friend Mari,  who was in town to visit friends and family, had to fly back to Eugene OR on an unexpected red-eye flight, to see her husband, who that evening was hit by two separate drunk drivers while cycling, and wasnt expected to live. While Jeff has show drastic improvement, from the initial prognosis, he will still be in intensive care units and hospitals for months to come. It is a stark reminder of how short life can be, and that even though we have had our downs, that nothing can compare to their suffering in this crisis.

Nearly three months to the day since the flood happened in our home, a contractor has still yet to get on site to start work (seems that when you need a contractor in the middle of their already booked, busiest time of the year, no amount of pleading, begging, or bartering works wonders), and I haven’t been able to make a single pot since then. Because of this lack of inventory, I have had to make the decision to cancel shows which I was going to attend, as the lack of inventory makes attending fiscally irresponsible. So unfortunately I have had to cancel St James, Arts in the Park, and possible Black Swamp.

Lastly, while I had been working towards (and talking about for years) building a separate studio from my home, and condensing my home and shared studio into one, we had not been able to do so thus far. Nonetheless, this winter I will be building a new studio; the shared studio I have had for the past 7 years will no longer be around in 6 more months as my associate, and mentor in founding my business, will be retiring and moving from the area. So, while it is very exciting that finally I will have a singular, comprehensive studio of my own, it comes at the worst time, and means that I will no longer have a studio partner.

Because of all that has gone on, and what needs to happen for my new studio to get built, and moved into, I expect that I will not be producing any new work until late spring or early summer of 2019. I do sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this causes all my loyal, and so VERY much appreciated patrons, and look forward to the day when my life gets back to normal. The sentiments and well wishes that I have received from so many of you who have heard my story thus far have been extremely helpful in keeping my chin up, and I look forward to sharing the excitement of a new studio, and new work in a little less than a year.

I truly appreciate your patience and support, and look forward to helping you in the future!