Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hacked & Troubled

After posting nothing for quite a while, I now post for the second time in a week. Normally I would save this up for a week or so before posting, but I wanted to share this sooner.

Malicious damage was done to me personally this week. My website was hacked. If you go there (http://mimistadlerpottery.com) you will see a red bar telling you this is a “reported attack page.” Uncovering the code, Leah at iPoint Web Design discovered that the hacker operated from Syria, and that attached to the infecting snippets of code were anti-Israel phrases.

My Wordpress website had a vulnerable point of access, and the hacker entered. (I only noticed when Google blacklisted me.) But what drew the attacker there in the first place? Based on the geographic origin of the hacker (probably a machine programmed to do what it did) and the anti-Israel phrases, and taking into account that nowhere does the word “Israel” appear on my site, I make an assumption. In About the Artist, you can read that I am Jewish. And in the meta data, you can see “Judaica” as one of the terms used a lot, and “Jewish holiday” as another. Those had to be the targeted keywords that the mechanical hacking program with the offending code was looking for. Any pretense that Israel (and not Judaism itself) is the reason for hate here, is false. I was targeted because I am Jewish. And because I am Jewish, an Israel-hater would like me harmed.

As hate crimes go, this one is relatively benign. It prevents me from carrying on my e-commerce, of course, and this is a pretty unpleasant situation for me. But I am a studio potter, not a school, let’s say, or a business with numerous employees. Hacking my site affects only me and no one else. Indirectly, you might even conjecture that in a back-handed way I gained, as the security on my site, which was weak, is greatly improved now, and the code in general got quite a nice tightening up. Assuming Google un-blacklists me soon, the harm done could be considered pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But the stupidity of attacking a peace-loving clay spinner, who desires to live gently and do no harm to this earth or its people, and to attack me because I am Jewish, is indeed troubling.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I've Got the Many-Day-No-Clay-pre-Reno Blues

This is what used to be: a big mess. I had a jewelry corner filled to bursting with beads and wire, and a cabinet of out-of-date office machines. There were three folding tables, and about 80 pieces of pottery on tables, stands and shelves. Long ago, I had improvised onother table of cinder blocks and a board, and yet two more tables of sawhorses and boards. It all stood in the drab, poorly lit space I want to call The Gallery Downstairs. (I can’t yet; but you can bet I’m going to, when it loses its sad old vinyl floor and stops being a playground for mouse visitors).

First on the agenda was saying bye bye to that mouse and any of its family. I set traps, found and sealed a hole, and hung a Not Welcome sign below the sink that read, Adios, ratons.

The cabinet full of defunct office machines took up prime real estate. Machines were sent elsewhere so that I had a big, empty cabinet. It filled up quickly with the collection of beads (thousands, in many little drawers), spools of wire, and all other non-clay craft supplies. I kept the jewelry bench and my tools out, though. An artisan always has use for good files and pliers and a Flexi-Shaft tool for fine cutting, polishing and drilling.

I packed up the pottery in bubble wrap and old clean towels and boxed it for storage. There was more pottery than bubble wrap, so I loaded up the ware cart and rolled the rest of the pots to the kiln room in shifts, where they’ve been transferred to shelves. Tired and far from done, I took a little "Pot Drop therapy", also known as the Breaking of the Pottery, which not only kept me calmer but also rid the studio of bad “seconds.” This activity is surprisingly good for releasing negative energy. The only downside is sweeping up after.

Too nice to give away, too sentimentally connected to sell, boxes of my mother-in-law’s china and keepsakes from her house got hauled from their old home beneath the open gallery steps and were stowed upstairs to an attic crawl space instead.

We have yet to roll the extra fridge out of the future gallery and into the laundry/extra kitchen-ish room, but when we do, there will be more room yet to display art.

With tables folded, sawhorses too, big boards stowed away, three ugly old bookshelf units emptied of children's toys and pottery and removed; (with that attic area also cleaned and the toys relocated to it;) with eight cinder blocks hauled out back under the deck; suddenly you can see lots of floor.

Tony the Floor Man came to talk estimates with me, for putting down a new vinyl floor. The price was twice my expectation.

Robert the Electrician came to discuss wiring, upgrading the existing can lights to show the work better, and adding adjustable spot lighting. He could not give me a price because I have yet to figure out the display shelving and thus the placement of spotlights. Robert is a stickler for code and safety, and he’s slow and meticulous. I expect better lighting to cost fully as much as the floor.

Meanwhile, a hacker attacked my website yesterday, and it was blacklisted on Google and made inaccessible to the public. Leah at iPoint Web Design is on a search and destroy mission as I write this.

Very long story made very short, it’s been a while since I had my hands in clay. Withdrawal symptoms are too many to enumerate… sing with me...I've got the Many-Day-No-Clay-pre-Reno Ba-lllu-uuues!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Hiatus, and Studio Plans

Out of the studio for all of December, of necessity, I found it hard to sleep. With my hands not busy in all things clay, my mind compensated by percolating way overtime during the night.

Plans for studio improvements have been going down on paper. I have little post-it bits cut to scale that I am moving around the rough floor plan sketch, representing potter's wheel, ware carts and tables. The new layout is a work in progress.

The pottery in the gallery part of the studio is still partly packed up from the show I was in the first Sunday in December. I have more pots to box up, tables to fold away, cinder blocks to take away, a jewelry kiln and supplies to sell, and many, many beads to store somewhere else. The jewelry corner is going to become the bookkeeping, sales and pack-and-ship corner. The rest of the gallery plan is for a new floor, much better lighting that can be adjusted to spotlight the work, fresh paint on the walls, and a much improved display system.

The clay and glaze areas are going to be switched, with a wall removed in the process and, I hope, some glass doors between the gallery and the very dusty studio.

I've made drawings of pots. There's a small pile of drawings on the beds in the spare room. Here's a page of items I'm thinking about for the Gift Registry I want to put on my website.

There's a bookmark migrating slowly through The Business of Being an Artist. I'm in the website marketing section. I hope this will be helpful. Not sure yet.

I have a new, super nice business card. Shaindy P. cheerfully steered me through 12 adaptations. She swapped the work for studio time. This is the best kind of barter. A good time was had by all.

What happens to a one-person studio operation when the one person is temporarily out of commission? My wrist has to heal before I can push and pull clay, but heck, I can stay up nights, planning. And I can line up helpers... Studio time, anyone?