Staying Centered, New Work, & Sale on Hoodies and Sweatshirts


3 new bowls, and one from last week

Ceramic wheel throwing is going well. My husband is relaxing and enjoying it now, and we’re both getting the hang of keeping clay centered.  I went in one afternoon this week to throw some more bowls, and trim feet on last time’s bowls.  Above shows one old bowl, upper left, that I think is Brian’s, but often we can’t tell so we just scratch our last nams on the bottoms before they get fired, which is enough lettering to fit on a small space.  The very wet new bowls are moved from the wheel to a plywood board and labeled, because, well, pretty much all the beginning bowls probably look similar.  If we were going to make plates, the teacher showed us how to throw on a bat, so we could leave the piece on it, as it’d be really hard if not impossible to detach something with such a wide base from the wheel, and move it, without totally distorting it. The softer (wetter) the clay, the more it can distort.  To remove the piece, you put water behind it on the wheel and drag your wire cutting tool thru the base, as close to the wheel as possible. You do this until the piece loosens and slides toward you. Then you carefully move it by grasping it at the base and transferring it to a board, where it is left to get leather hard for the next step, turning it over and trimming a nice foot on the bottom, below.


Greenware bowls with feet trimmed

Above, the two darker looking bowls are dark because they’re still wetter,  leather hard and just got trimmed. The four lighter ones are dry, trimmed a few days ago.  I rather like trimming feet. Not being there daily, sometimes you have to trim things that are a little drier than you’d like, or if they’re too wet, put them outside by a fan, where they become leather hard pretty quickly.  This is where the imperfections can often just be trimmed off, not unlike turning wood on a lathe. When I was in college, I was so bad at centering, that most of my wheel pieces were more lathe carved than wheel thrown, LOL!  But surprisingly, I’m getting it this time, and most of my bowls are very centered. After the foot is trimmed on the wheel, we carve our names in the bottom. Otherwise we’d never know what was what after it was fired.  Even though we think we’d recognize our work, most of the time we don’t.  I think that will change once we start adding things to pieces!

Next class I think we’re going to to cups, according to what the teacher had planned. We will need to attach handles to them at the leather hard stage, which is a bit more fussy I think, than trimming feet, so I will need to go in as often as possible to ensure they get dealt with at the correct wetness to dryness.  Or, cover them with plastic, and use the fan, when we ARE able to be there outside of class.


All clean

Cleaning up can take awhile! We don’t start anything new if there’s 30 minutes or less left. It gets turned off, unplugged, and sponged down, then the sink and tools also get cleaned, clay sealed up and put away. The plastic pan under the wheel comes apart and I’ve learned to sop the worst of the slurry and clay lumps out before disassembling it.  I also put the clay chunks and trimmings into a bag, and use them later to roll coils to hold bowls in place for trimming feet. Eventually the wetter stuff will be saved for slip, the ‘glue’ that holds handles onto cups and so on.  After the parts of the trays are cleaned, the whole wheel and everything gets a sponge bath.  Then the foot pedal and cord are put up, because mop fairies come in the night and clean the floors.  The Microsoft bag back there is how I carried my apron and tools to the studio on the bus.

One of the reasons I started at the beginning was of course I needed to learn wheel throwing for what I want to do. Another reason is there are things I’ve forgotten about handbuilding that are important, like scoring and slip, to attach parts. I am not sure I remember it all. A mistake could result in a ruined piece, or worse…having it blow up in the kiln and ruin other people’s work, too.





“Baby,” acrylic on canvas panel, 4 x 6 in., Cindy Schnackel 2014

My table is full of more than a dozen small pieces, mostly bottle cap birds, but also a few miniature paintings on cut out wooden shapes, that are only awaiting edge finishing, before I photograph them.  Above, this small acrylic painting on canvas panel, titled “Baby,” is done.  Baby represents baby broiler chicks, (which regardless if they are so-called ‘free range’ or whatever), lead short and horrific lives.  It bothered me that I was eating chickens when I clearly thought of them as pets, so I stopped a couple of years ago. Then gradually, other meat, dairy, eggs, went too. Many animal rescues have a few rescued chickens, and the baby broiler chicks had blue eyes which surprised me, as none of my chicks ever had blue eyes. But then I never had a white chicken, and the broiler breed they showed was white. Baby looks a bit devious, and I have a feeling she’ll become a recurring character.

I’ll probably be doing a post on my Found A Chicken blog before long, on one or more of the animal rescues who have provided exposure of this industry, and who have a few of the lucky ones that were rescued.  Found A Chicken:

Besides the many small bird paintings I’ve been working on, I’m working on material for a show in 2015, work that will be held back from public display until the gallery starts promoting the event. It is keeping me busy, even though I’m not posting a lot of new pieces.




Giant Coffee Drinking Chicken adapted for Redbubble’s Products (Cindy Schnackel © 2011)

In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a sweatshirt or hoodie, the POD site I’m on, redbubble, is having a 15% off sale on those until Monday, if you use the coupon code HOODIE15 at checkout. I don’t offer a lot of that product but do have some. Take a look at this one and also look in my portfolio there for more, in the “Products” Collection.


Fall 2014 Stuff


First bowls, beginning wheel throwing, Sept 2014


One day in late August or early September, I was bored, overheated, and felt like taking some risks.  The three things I did that day were:

  • Cut my own hair, (turned out ok; let’s just say I’ve paid for worse),
  • Went swimming alone, (stupid and unsafe, but it was well over 100 and I’d been outdoors a couple hours)
  • Signed up for beginning wheel throwing class

Back in the 80s, I did try wheel throwing in a college ceramics class, but it wasn’t the focus of the class, and I never mastered the fundamental of centering clay on the wheel! I moved on to handbuilding. The idea of spending the fall on ONLY throwing is kind of scary because I was not sure if I was just incapable of centering clay, and I didn’t want to waste money, time, or material. Now, I’m in class again, and focusing on the wheel, with the goal of incorporating some wheel thrown parts with handbuilt, to create creatures. This fall will be spent getting competent enough that I can go in during open studio and make what I need to. Next year I’ll continue taking classes to have access to the workshop, wheels, kiln, etc. Ceramics is something I can’t do at home. It has been over 20 years since I did any! Somehow, air dry clays are just not a 100% satisfying substitute. I enjoy seeing pieces transformed by firing and glazing, and I like that they can be functional objects as well. These little imperfect bowls, if they survive all the firings, will be useful food vessels or perhaps we’ll burn incense in them by the pool. If they break, I have a couple of mosaic artist friends who’d probably love the pieces.

So…progress. We made several bowls each, some were total failures and ended up on the clay recycling table, to be scraped up and remoistened later.  The first class, we just threw bowls. The second class, we trimmed the bowls to put a nice little foot on them, which if the bowl is reasonably uniform and you get it centered (again), goes pretty well and is fun. Reminds me of wood turning, another thing I’ve never done. Of course not all the bowls were easy to trim. Some got cut through because we didn’t make the bottom thick enough.

I’ll try to remember to take more pics when I go back, to show the progress.  It was surprising to me that my husband decided at the last minute to take the class, too, so we are in it together.



I have a show penciled in for spring of 2015, but it is too early to announce anything about it, even the date.  I plan to keep a lot of the work for it off the internet until closer to the show, so that is a whole swath of work that’s happening starting now, but that you won’t see pics of for several months! That’s hard for me not to post pics of new work.  Last year I kind of did that due to an infringement problem but it was nice when I did show them, that they were unseen by most people, so that’s also a nice feeling.


Studio, Cindy Schnackel, fall 2014

Some bird paintings are of course going on at the same time! I have several small works on wood that are done now, except for the edge treatment.  They are laying on the table, still in progress at this stage, in this pic of my studio. It was taken right after I’d put in some new shelves and rearranged everything, which took awhile. With material brought in for making work for a show, I had to haul everything out of there,  figure out shelf placement and then totally reorganize the room. it’s much better now!


Birds hand painted on prepared bottle caps, Cindy Schnackel, 2014

The bottle cap bird paintings are growing in number.  They are $20 each. The hanger is a recycled pop top ring or other type recycled hardware, depending on what is available.  There are two on the bottom row in this pic that have the ring attached.

A lot of the really tiny things I’ve been working on were put away in drawers so they would not get lost or damaged.  Now that the studio is back together, I’ll be taking those things out, dealing with any last finishing touches, and soon uploading some to my inventory list and probably also my redbubble page.



As if I needed more to do, I started a new blog, Found A Chicken, where I post photos of chickeny things I see, or or showcase other artists. I hope you’ll go take a look!

Why I Watermark, and When “Being Found” is Bad


Graphic created from screenshots. I added obscuring text to the screenshot image to help stop further misuse.


Watermarking is like locking the door on your house when you go out.  While nothing is 100% prevention, a lock deters most, which is a huge benefit.

Above, a search engine (Bing) calls some images “clip art,” which implies incorrectly that they’re free to use. (I marked the screenshot with text to help prevent further misuse.)

The image above had only a tiny watermark on the edge, unusual for me now, as I use a larger mark, but this was for media/gallery use. Every artist has to figure out where their line in the sand is. This is about what works for me.

I regularly do reverse image searches, and employ other search tactics, to find infringements.  When I find infringements, I send DMCA takedowns to the hosts of infringing sites, and the infringing use is usually removed quickly, as the host is required by law to do so. (See links below on Reverse Image Searching, and DMCA Takedown.)

I was spending several hours a week on takedowns before I started using prominent watermarks.  Once I did, new infringements almost stopped, but sales of my original works kept increasing, debunking the theory that watermarking will kill your sales of original art.

Here’s why infringement can harm artists, and why I take preventative measures:

  • Unauthorized uses are unpaid.
  • Some uses are against your beliefs, even criminal; reputation damage by implied endorsement.
  • Some people falsely claim it’s their work, causing doubt about who’s lying, more reputation damage.
  • It can kill licensing deals. The person buying a license to use the image does not want something now associated with another brand or concept.
  • The law is on copyright owners’ side but enforcement is expensive! Prevention is better.
  • The less time I spend on takedowns, the more time I have to make new art and market it, and the happier I am that I’m not getting ripped off!


False sense of security in outdated methods

Don’t fall for the claim that only uploading low resolution (small) images is enough protection.  If it looks good on your site that small, it will look just as good on the infringer’s site. Plus, it can be made into multiple small products.  And, why would an infringer care if their buyers got a blurry reprint?

Most sites do not call for a high resolution image anyway, as the page would load too slowly. Small images typical of web display, (500 to 800 pixels per side), are infringed constantly.

The only time you must upload a high resolution image that isn’t ‘defaced’ by a large watermark is when you sell reproductions on Print On Demand sites, (POD’s), but these sites only display a small version. A POD is a site like redbubble, Fine Art America, Zazzle, Society 6, etc.

The watermark options on sites are simply a layer, usually easy to bypass on your site, and often not picked up at all by search engines, where much infringement now occurs now thanks to the large views.  Right click disabling, no pin codes, etc, are all of very small benefit, as most peple now know how to bypass them, and again, search engine views bypass it.

Keeping up with technology is important. Watermarks can be removed but some are harder to remove than others. Like the door lock analogy, the prevention of most incidents is still very worthwhile.


Do you believe “being found” is always good?

Being found in the wrong context, such as the erroneous ‘clip art’ search results above, or by spammers, scammers, and infringers, is not good. It doesn’t help you in any way, and can harm you.

Tailoring your sites and search tags etc to be found by your art’s admirers, and your buyers, is good. Promote your pages yourself, to a known audience. Even happy buyers’ word of mouth is still viable in the 21st century.

The old idea of just getting lots of ‘traffic’ is outdated and unhelpful. As I noticed others picking up on the ‘traffic’ thing as mostly crapola, I saw these sites move to ‘content’ as the thing they most wanted. That is, yours and my content. So be careful of site Terms, and what you put there.

For example, every time I make a new blog post or upload a new image, it attracts some undesirables along with the good traffic.  A new blog is almost immediately liked or followed by a spammer, or sometimes gets a spam comment in the moderation file. The more search tags I’ve put on it, the more junk traffic it gets.  I will only put my name in some tags, plus one or a few really pertinent tags, now.

Narrowing down who readily finds my stuff has not hurt sales of my original work. I don’t offer much on my POD anymore so it’s hard to say there, but artists I know who do sell lots on PODs say they’ve found search engines were never a big part of their buyer traffic. They are good at promoting their work and their efforts are why they make sales.

You can put no-bot code in your sites depending on if the option is available, if you truly do not need search engines at all.  Most of us still want to be found on search engines enough not to do that but I know some artists who do it and prefer it.

Being findable in an identifiable way is good. Being found on scraper sites, lousy misleading image searches, uncredited social media ‘shares’ etc, is not good. Watermarks continue to keep my work identifiable, and of little use to infringers. A potential buyer seeing an uncredited share with the watermark cropped off could do a reverse image search to find the owner, which would be much easier if the owner had marked images to compare it to.

It’s not free promotion unless people can readily see whose work it is.


Watermarking How-To’s

“How to ensure your watermarks are secure”

A watermark is simply whatever text, symbol, etc you choose to ‘stamp’ onto an image to identify it. If it’s composed of legible typed text it’s identifiable as your work. This is why I don’t use a symbol; no one would know what it meant.

Please be cautious about using sites that offer a way to watermark your images. Some look kind of scammy. Some may be fine but I wonder how much control you really have. I have tried NONE of the watermarking sites, and prefer to mark my own in photo editing software.

Youtube and other video sources have videos demonstrating how to watermark in whatever software you have.  Gimp is free online art software. Photoshop Elements is a limited version of the full Photoshop and affordable, relatively speaking.

Save a version of your image file for watermarking, so your original unmarked image is not lost!

If you don’t know now, learn how the “layers” and “transparency” work so your mark will be part of the image, (flatten layers), but preferably semi-transparent. These are not as obnoxious as fully opaque type.

Use your unimportant snapshots,  or a copy of one of your image files to experiment on and have fun. It’s not fun when it’s an important image and you feel you have to get it just so.  Experimentation when it doesn’t matter is a great way to learn new tricks. Experiment with text tools, brushes, erasers, filters, transparency, scale, etc.

If all this is overwhelming, just use a text tool in even rudimentary software your computer or tablet comes with, and at least add your name in small print on the edge. It’s rare any PC or Mac does not come with something that can add text to an image, even if not as sophisticated as real art/editing software.

Unless your signature is normally an important, prominent, visual element of your artwork, I would not rely on it being large enough or legible enough to serve the same purpose as a watermark.




Templetons Copyright Myths 


Watermarks and removal of copyright management information


Problem with False Creative Commons Licenses

(Not everything uploaded to stock or licensing sites, clip art, etc, is there legally!)


NOT Cool, Google!

(The irony of how search engines’ big view can take your traffic not drive it to you, and increase infringement at the same time.)


Public Domain Sherpa

(Learn about actual ‘public domain,’ which is not at all the same thing as ‘publicly displayed!’) 


Cornell: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States

(Useful chart)


Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA, and DMCA takedown process)

(A fairly brief explanation, I thought I’d spare you the novel-length documents of the copyright office, etc)


How to Do a Reverse Image Search on Google

(Not the only way but very useful.)