A Fan-Art Thank You for Once Upon A Time

Gratitude Project Presentation: 5 February 2017

It’s hard to believe this has come so far! I am very, very pleased with the outcome and consider the Gratitude Project wildly successful. Please enjoy the video!

While I have no expectation that the bell recipients will ever land on this page, it could happen, so I will address them in the beginning of this article. For everyone, after that are my initial conclusions about this project and some of the nerdy details I just couldn’t stuff into a tiny video. Consider this some bonus material included for those interested. I hope you like it.

Bell Recipients!

If you are here because you were mentioned in the video and I have a bell for you, I am SO glad you’re here!!! Please use the below picture to tell me which bell you want! If you comment here on my blog, I will receive it. I might suggest that you tweet a brief video of yourself saying “I want my bell!” and its number to me (@ponamgaudium). It might be easiest to follow me on Twitter so that we can private message back and forth in order to get it to you. Video chat is also an option so we can both be confident of with whom we are making arrangements.

Please note that my travel abilities and resources are limited so I will want to make only one trip up to Vancouver to deliver these. You are of course always welcome in Seattle and I will happily meet with you if you are passing through. Again, thank you so much for what you’ve done for me. I really can’t say that enough.

Which one is your favorite?
Which one is your favorite?

The Drafts

An illustration of progress from right to left.
An illustration of progress from right to left.

Barbara, what are you going to do with the umpteen drafts sitting on your kitchen counter? Um. Well. I may choose to come to filming sometime this spring with a box of drafts in tow and offer then to whomever is working on set that day. I might do that. I make no promises about the drafts.

I hate that I had to choose who to dedicate the final versions to. It’s too bad these are so hard to make that I can’t make one for everyone who works on Once, but sadly, those are the facts. If you are cast, crew, writer, musician et cetera and you let me know you are interested in one of the drafts, that will increase the likelihood that I bring them to set. If I am unlikely to recognize you, you will need to provide evidence that you actually do work on Once because I am uninterested in wild goose chases or dishonest people who think they are entitled to someone else’s gift. Sorry to be that way, but needs must.

These are offered as is and none of the available drafts has a clapper installed. I have a few spare parts which will go to whomever speaks first, but I make no guarantees about these drafts. Please keep in mind that many of these are obviously broken and may have sharp edges. 

Outcome of the Gratitude Project

The journey through this project has been an amazing one for me. At the outset, I figured it’d take me a quarter to do and that would be that. Not so. I learned so much over the course of the year and suffice it to say, my pottery skills have improved. Emotionally, I find I had little idea what to expect. What I anticipated and what I got are quite distinct. A friend suggested I post a blooper reel to illustrate more fully just how difficult and frustrating this project was. But I got so much joy out of it too and that definitely overshadows the challenges. It’s hard to describe the elation of seeing that the finals had come out of the last firing intact and beautiful after all that work. So worth every moment of, let’s call it non-success. 

I got to spend a year thinking about all the ways Once has impacted my life and the final estimation is rather staggering. I could only mention so much in an itty-bitty video, but I spend a lot of time with the Once community online and have loved every second of my writing about Once and its characters. Though I know I am but a spectator, I feel like I’m a part of the magic.

I have to admit, I have had serious second thoughts about posting this project for all to see. If this is supposed to be about gratitude, why am I so nervous? Why am I afraid of sharing this? It should be alright, right? I sure hope so. This feels like sharing an intimate part of my mind with a whole lot of people and that’s a little daunting. But you’ll all be wonderful and supportive, I’m certain.

I will say that I am proud of how this turned out and proud of myself for seeing this through. If I thought I was grateful to Once before I started this project, I’m even more so now. Because of Once I just learned a tremendous amount, I made something I can be proud of and I stuck with a project start to finish no matter the obstacles. I would never have done any of this if not for being inspired by Once.

So? Did it work? Did I experience gratitude? I’d say so. I feel now that I knew relatively little about what gratitude is, how it functions, when I conceived of this project. I am still processing my newly expanded definition, matter of fact. For example, I didn’t know that gratitude and inspiration were so tightly linked for me. Now I do. I certainly did not anticipate that saying thank you for Once would feel so much like continuing to receive this incredible gift. Almost as if the effect of the gift has been magnified. Deciding to say thank you for Once has made Once even more a part of my life than it was before and has generated even more reasons for gratitude. Maybe it’s like a positive feedback loop, the more I notice my gratitude, the more the reasons for that gratitude become apparent.

I intend to do a more formal write up of my experience after it has percolated for a while.

New Skills!

In addition to the emotional journey, I have definitely grown as an artist and a potter. I experienced tenacity and determination I hadn’t planned on needing to see this through. In a way, I think this project changed my appreciation of Once as itself, a piece of art. I had thought of Once as art before I started this, but now that I have been to filming twice, made my own art project, filmed it and put that video together, I have, shall we say, a more nuanced perspective.

In case you were wondering, making film is hard freaking work. There were times I thought I might die of video editing having gotten bogged down in just trying to figure out what to say with all this emotion, all these stories, running pell-mell around my head. A year’s worth of pottery class videos is a lot to scrub, by the way. I couldn’t show the whole process as no way was I out to make an hour or two’s worth of explanatory film. Yikes! Maybe they call that a documentary if it’s done by someone who knows what they’re doing. Anyway, just trying to narrow the scope into something digestible was a challenge from the sheer amount of material I had to work with. Hopefully it is understandable and even enjoyable.

For the pottery nerds out there, here’re a few more details. When all was said and done, I ended up using Coleman’s cone 10 porcelain for my clay-body having rejected a cone 10 Laguna B-mix and a cone 6 Dove porcelain- the latter of which I hated. Hated! I wasted most of a quarter on that cone 6 debacle.

For the white bells I used a clear glaze which isn’t really clear; it ended up being a subtle, transparent, icy blue which I found lovely on that clay body. A happy surprise. The gold is a gold luster overglaze. Yes, it is actual gold in an organic solvent- toxic! Wear your PPE! The blue surface design is a simple underglaze, probably designed for low fire and cone 6 but still usable at high fire. It deepened beautifully from a royal blue to a lovely marbled navy. I’m very happy with that too. The blue bell, or the Dark Bell as it is in my mind, uses a cobalt-heavy glaze which I think is probably fairly common to most potters.

A word about the Dark Bell. I love that cobalt glaze and have used it on many of my pieces in the past. I can’t remember exactly how the idea came to me, but once I imagined an inverted color scheme for the bell, it stuck and I couldn’t not make one. As with the others, if I could have, I’d have made many more of the Dark version as well as the white bells, but I suppose there’s some kind of poetic rightness that among the finalists in the project, there is only one Dark Bell. It has a special place in my heart, maybe because I know what it’s like to be different and I think it’s wonderful. I wonder who might choose that bell.

When I conceived of this project one of the early challenges was that I did not want any raw clay showing. No rough edges, no unglazed surfaces apparent. That’s impossible, right? So I designed the bells to be fired on stilts such that the clappers would be glued in over the raw area, as you saw. I’m both pleased and lucky that the thin tops of the bells could support their weight during firing. It is evident when this was a near run thing. I also had problems with the delicate nature of the handles. They tended to warp and melt badly in the firing and even one of the finals is only just useable due to this issue. Lucky me!

The clapper is a wooden bead which reminded me of Rumple’s Dark One eyes suspended with an 18 karat gold wire. Before anyone freaks out, yes it’s gold, but it’s a tiny amount, same with the gold luster. Comparable to the cost of going out to lunch, say.

While we’re on the taboo subject of cost, someone probably won’t have noticed the disclaimer in the credits and is wanting to buy their very own. Folks have already asked me about this before I even finished the project. Thank you very much for the compliment, but under no circumstances will I sell one of the bells or any of the drafts. They are not for sale. No. You can’t put a price tag on gratitude. Please don’t ask me this.

Even if I hadn’t made these for a gratitude project, art that is this involved is pretty much unsellable anyway. Anyone who makes things by hand will tell you that handmade stuff is expensive because the artist wants to eat. The hourly rate for most artists is pretty abysmal or more people would have quit their day jobs already in favor of arting. Save us both the time and don’t ask me to sell you a bell.


That said, I love making stuff and commissions are a possibility. I’m not yet set up to sell online, but if interest is sufficient, I could probably find my way to Etsy or elsewhere. Now, please, again, I will not make you a bell; these bells are only for Once and only to be given away. Sorry. I also will not make other fan-art to sell. I’m not looking for trouble.

I can make nice things, dishes and the like. Most of my work is utilitarian in nature, but I can figure out how to make all kinds of things. If you have something in mind that you think you might like, ask me. We might be able to work something out. My sculptural abilities are limited at this point, but you can always ask. Remember, I’m a student, I’ve been at this a while, but this is my hobby and in no way am I a professional potter. Please also keep in mind that a commission is like a deal with the Dark One, it is an agreement made between two people and magic always comes with a price. Expect to pay what’s fair. I’m nicer than the Dark One, but I still expect all deals to be honored.

I can’t believe this is actually finished!! I made it! I did it! Maybe it’s ok that self-satisfaction is part of gratitude. What do I know anyway? More than I did to start with that’s for sure, but I still feel like I have a lot more to learn about gratitude.

Thank you so much, Once, for this incredible gift you’ve given me. To quote Wicked, “I have been changed, for good.”

Before you go, you can check out my research project! I have conducted a study of OUAT viewer preferences and you can check on my progress here. Yay for science!


4 thoughts on “A Fan-Art Thank You for Once Upon A Time

  1. Dear Barbara,

    Thank you for including me in this, and I hope you won’t mind if I share it with Jennifer too.

    Mostly I, too, am just grateful. Maybe not to the same degree, or for the same reasons. I am grateful that you, a friend I care about very much, have found hope, inspiration, and courage in the face of tremendous set-back and loss. Our journeys may be different, but I’ve been on a similar path, as you well know.

    To have something magical and happy to focus on when the real world seems filled with nothing but limitations and obstacles, to feel the need to create and/or express oneself out of joy….is a gift beyond measure. And to transcend the medium of the inspiration, bringing it with us into reality and making it blossom in meaningful and tangible ways – it can (and IMO does) make one feel a part of something grander and better.

    I hope that Mr. Carlisle chooses the Dark Bell, as would only be fitting. I hope that you’ll get to meet and talk to those who have helped you, influenced you, and sustained you.

    Wanting always, what is best for you. Thank you.


    On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 11:16 AM, Make Happiness wrote:

    > Barbara posted: “Gratitude Project Presentation: 4 February 2017 It’s hard > to believe this has come so far! I am very, very pleased with the outcome > and consider the Gratitude Project wildly successful. Please enjoy the > video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8qYt4oFYL4 ” >


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