Friday, May 30, 2014

Artists, Critics, and Potters

Potters are the nicest people.  We share secret glaze recipes, we do classes workshops to teach other potters how we do what so they can do it too.  We even go to each other's shows and buy each other's work.  I recently read the novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, at one point the main character goes to an art opening expecting to meet artists but instead finds only patrons there.  Potters tend to be both and do attend the openings.

We are also really nice to each other including publicly complementing each other's work and being otherwise very supportive.  However, it seems that not all artists are as nice to each other as potters.  I recently came across a few critical quotes from some of the great masters.  I hope they are largely just being funny.  What do you think?

Frederic Leighton, to James McNeil Whistler: 
"My dear Whistler, you leave your pictures in such a sketchy, unfinished state. Why don't you ever finish them? 

Whistler, to Leighton: 
"My dear Leighton, why do you even begin yours?" 

Salvador Dali, describing Jackson Pollock's paintings: 
"...The indigestion that goes with fish soup." 

Francis Bacon, on Jackson Pollock:
Jackson Pollock's paintings might be very pretty but they are just decoration. I always think they look like old lace. 

Francis Bacon, on Henri Matisse:
I've never liked his things very much, except the very, very early things; I loathe them. I can never see what there is to it, with all those squalid little forms. I can't bear the drawings either, I absolutely hate his line. I find his line sickly.

Andy Warhol, on Jasper Johns:
Oh, I think he's great. He makes such great lunches.

Andy Warhol, on Julian Schnabel: 
I got worried that Julian might have heard what I'd been sayinabout 
him that he goes around to other artists studios to find things to copy.

Willem de Kooning, on Andy Warhol: 
You're a killer of art, you're a killer of beauty, you'reven a killer 
of laughter. I can't bear your work!

Nicolas Poussin, on Caravaggio:
Carvaggio's art is painting for lackeys. This man has come into thworld to destroy painting.

Titian, on Tintoretto:
He will never be anything but a dauber.

Salvador Dali, on Piet Mondrian:
Well, I Salvador, will tell you this, that Piet with one "i" less 
would have been nothing but "pet", which is the French word for fart.

Salvador Dali, on Pablo Picasso:
He finished modern art at one blow by out-uglying, alone, in a single day, the ugly that all others combined turned out in several years.

Alberto Giacometti, on Picasso: 
Picasso is altogether bad, completely beside the point from the beginning except for his Cubist period, and even that half misunderstood. Ugly. Old-fashioned, vulgar, without sensitivity, horrible in color or non-color. 
Very bad painter once and for all.

Marc Chagall, on Picasso:
What a genius, that Picasso. It's a pity he doesn't paint.

William Blake, on Peter Paul Rubens:
To my eye Ruben's coloring is most contemptible. His shadows are of filthy brown somewhat the color of excrement.

Joseph Beuys, on Marcel Duchamp: 
The silence of Marcel Duchamp is overrated. It has become the territory of 
a few intellectuals, far from the life of people.

Frida Kahlo, on the European Surrealists: 
They are so damn intellectual and rotten that I can't stand them anymore; I'd rather sit on the floor in the market of Toluca and sell tortillas, than have anything to do with those artistic bitches of Paris.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, on Leonardo da Vinci:
He bores me. He ought to have stuck to his flying machines.


Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Customer Service Expectations

You may have noticed that blog posts here have been a little sporadic.  If you post a blog that I comment on frequently you may have noticed the lack of comments.  I'm sorry about all of that, I tried the best I could but I was having troubles with my internet and that made things difficult.  I don't want to get into the entire nightmare and bore you with all the details of my trials and tribulations with AT&T just suffice it to say, I'm now on Comcast.

I have friends that use comcast and I know their reputation.  I am fully expecting the same lousy customer service with comcast that I had with AT&T.  It just that this was my only option for fixing the issue with the wires.  Tech folks call it a work-around.  I call it out of the frying pan and into the fire.  In all honesty my experience has been really good thus far so it's not right for me to be ugly, I just know what my friends have experienced.  I'm sure you all can discuss a horrible customer experience you or a friend has had dealing with these large corporations that are giving us something we feel like we can't live without.  Basic human needs have become, food, water, shelter, internet/TV (I don't own a TV so I'm not getting all my basic needs).

Pottery Juicer by Future Relics Gallery
Ceramic Juicer

I'm largely certain I would never get this kind of lousy customer service from a small business.  I know I would never give it.  I have not had many customer service issues arise but a few times a piece has gotten broken in shipping.  I normally replace the piece promptly either taking a replacement from my stock or making a new one if one is not available.  I also try to have this impact the customer as little as possible.  I should be the person who contacts the post office of FedEx, they shouldn't need to do that.  They are the customer.

I also do lots of commissions.  I always explain to the customer the process of making pottery and how long it takes due to drying times and the like.  Most people do seem to be understanding and it's me that feels uncomfortable that it takes so long.  Maybe that's the way it should be.  Happy customers, business owners doing the best they can.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou

She was an artist, she helped change the world.

Maya Angelou was an author, a poet, a singer, and a dancer.  She was also a civil rights activist and a hero to many people.  She stopped speaking for a long time when she was a child yet now she is a voice for so many people who feel like they aren't being heard.  She was strength, love and laughter.  If you have never read any of her work, you should.  If you have, you should read them again.  You won't be sorry.

She was an artist, she helped change the world.





Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Teapot Tuesday - Emergence Teapot

Have you ever seen an old building where the walls are made of brick. Maybe somebody plastered over the brick a few years ago but now that plaster has crumbled and fallen off the wall in spots.  The brick is revield again and we also see something else,  a glimpse into the past life of the building.  Maybe it's an advertisement for some product, maybe it's the name of the store that was originally there.  Maybe it's some graffiti message.

I love seeing these walls.  It's like an archeological dig without the dirt.  Not that I am opposed to getting dirty or muddy.  I am a potter after all.  Anyway, I love how we get a glimpse into the past. How it peeks out at us from under it's blanket of old plaster and paint.  I love how only part of the message is exposed leaving our minds eye to fill in the rest.

That's the motivation behind a series of pots I made.  I named it the Emergence series because the message was emerging.

No Sexis...Teapot by Future Relics Gallery
No Sexis... Teapot
On this teapot we see the pretty white porcelain with a few pastel flowers painted around the top.  But the porcelain and flowers are chipping away to revile a message.  What we see is part of a word the word is surrounded by the red circle with a line through it that we universally know to mean "No."  The letters that we see of the word are s-e-x-i-s.

No Sexis...Teapot Detail

When I would take this teapot to shows it was always funny to hear people talk about it.  Sometimes they would read "sexisim" or "sexist" as I intended, sometimes they would just stop reading at the letter x.  Some people just didn't get it at all while others did and enjoyed the message.  I sometimes wondered if an art festival was the wrong place to try to sell a piece of art pottery, it's just not what people seem to be ready to see in a pottery booth.  I still have this teapot, maybe one day I'll enter it into a teapot show or something and see what people think about it in that light.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Legend of the Monk’s Pillow Vase

It is said that a Buddhist Monk would keep one of these vases in his bed roll when he traveled. When he sat down to meditate he would put a flower into the vase and set it in front of him. That way when he came out of his meditative state the first thing he would see would be a beautiful flower. Being a minimalist and traveling on foot it behooved him to have multiple uses for everything he carried. The vase fit nicely under the neck and provided support while the monk was sleeping.

Monk's Pillow Bud Vase by Future Relics Gallery
Monks Vase

You can find a couple of these in my Etsy Store.


Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Teapot Tuesday - Tea For Two

As much as I love Three Cups of Tea I can also recognize that sometime people just want one or two cups.  This little teapot is perfect for them (besides, you can always brew a fresh pot quickly).  Some people may wonder why this teapot doesn't have a handle.  How are you going to pour the tea without a handle?  That's part of the design.  When the teapot is cool enough to touch the tea will be cool enough to drink, and it will be steeped.  I remember my grandmother continually checking the tea, pouring it into a cup...no not dark enough, back into the teapot it goes, wait, repeat.  This teapot solves that issue and saves space at the same time.  You can easily lift the teapot in your hand, hold your index finger on the lid and pour.  The carved surface helps give grip while also being pretty.

Carved, 2 Cup Teapot by Lori Buff
Two Cup Teapot

I got the idea from Japanese tea bowl and yunomi.  They don't have handles because the potter's thought was that if you couldn't handle the heat of the vessel then you couldn't handle the heat of the tea yet.  This teapot uses that some idea.

You can find this and other teapots I've made in my Etsy Store.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, May 19, 2014

Roasted Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad

As the warmer weather approaches it's nice to have filling salads for dinner.  The leftovers are great for lunches also.  The trick with keeping the lettuce nice for leftovers is to wait until just before you eat it to add the dressing.  If you dress the salad when you serve it at dinner the dressing will make the lettuce go all funny in the refrigerator over night.  I don't think this will kill you but it doesn't really seem all that appetizing. So keep the dressing in a separate container from the salad until you're ready to eat it.

Roasted Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad by Future Relics Pottery
Roasted Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad


For the Quinoa:

⅔ cup water
⅓ cup quinoa

For the Salad:

3 cups corn
1½ cups shelled edamame (thawed if previously frozen)
1 cup chopped red pepper
½ cup chopped cilantro
6 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Romain or spring mix lettuce

For the Dressing:

6 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons smooth dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil


To prepare the dressing, combine lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard and olive oil in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine and then pour over vegetable mixture. Chill before serving to allow the flavors to combine.

Roast the corn on the a grill (if it's on the cob) or in a cast iron skillet until you start to see brown on the surface.  If using corn on the cob, remove the kernels from the cob once they are cool enough to handle.

Place water and quinoa in a small saucepan and prepare according to package directions (which will probably indicate that you will bring them to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed). NOTE: If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, then before you add it to the saucepan, you will need to rinse it in a sieve, swishing it with your fingers until the water runs clear.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse and drain the edamame. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients and prepared quinoa.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How To Sell On Etsy, Or Not

At least once a year we should set goals for ourselves.  Sometimes these goal are related to something like losing weight, sometimes they are related to something like learning or perfecting our craft, sometimes they are something like a going to a certain vacation destination.  In any event, it's nice to have goals, it's important to set out to achieve something and either make it or evaluate why we didn't reach that goal.

As I've mentioned, I set a goal this year of growing my Etsy sales.  I've been really terrible at maintaining the shop since I opened it.  My first step was to open the shop, load a bunch of pictures then ignore it.  I didn't interact with very many people on Etsy, I rarely posted any new pots, basically I just hoped the pots would sell themselves.  Once in a while they did.  It was awesome to wake up in the morning and realize that someone had bought something from me while I slept.  Very cool but not very much or very often.  Certainly not enough to earn a living.  Yes, I have pottery in galleries and shops, I do festivals and shows but it's always good to have multiple streams of income rather than a bunch of pots sitting around waiting to go to their new homes.

Dragon Tea bowl by Lori Buff
Dragon Yunomi

I've started posting more on Etsy and interacting with other people who use Etsy and sales have picked up a little but not much.  So I did what everyone else seems to do and checked with the collective knowledge of the internet.  I found a lot of articles about how to improve my sales.  Most of those articles are very long and wordy with lot of links to other articles about how to improve your Etsy sales and those articles have lots of links to other articles that have lots of links to other articles...ENOUGH!

I'm a slow reader, I may even be a slow potter.  If I have to spend half of my time reading about how to sell, and half my time doing these special things to help me sell then I'll never have time to create.  I guess the best strategy is to just do the best you can and let that work.  I've said that about making pots and it was true, I will bet it's true of selling them too.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Burning Question

A few days ago someone posted a question into a Facebook group about when it's safe to open a kiln. If you're a potter you've been involved in this discussion at some point in your life and you know that the answers can be as varied as the number of people involved in the discussion.  People who watch me work or students who I teach always tell me that I'm a patient person.  I always beg to differ, I'm forced to be patient so I must be, but waiting on clay to dry or kilns to cool is hard.

One of my favorite answers came from a potter who opened the kiln around 350 degrees.  The argument was that you cook at that temperature in an oven, your pottery is most likely able to handle that temperature.  I like that logic since I make a fair amount of cookware.

Covered Casserole Dish by Lori Buff
Covered Casserole

For people who are not potters or who are new potters, the reason for the question is because bad things can happen to pots that are cooled too quickly.  Logic would tell you to wait as long as possible for the pots to cool, that's just smart.  Of course it's like telling a 5 year old to sleep in late on Christmas morning.  It's probably not happening, especially if we've tested a new glaze or form.  Sometimes we have deadlines and we are pushing things to the last minute because the clay wouldn't dry or thunderstorms cut off our electricity or the garden needed to be planted.  Whatever the reason, we always want to crack open that kiln and see the treasures inside.

Potter's at what temperature do you open your kilns?

What events in life do you have trouble waiting patiently for?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Teapot Tuesday - Flower Pot Teapot Set

This teapot and mugs set was made a few years ago.  The idea is that they look like those terra cotta flower pots that we use in our gardens.  These aren't actually made from the same clay but from Highwater's Orangestone and fired in a gas reduction kiln which gives it a very similar look but they are much more durable.

Clay flowerpot teapot and mugs by Lori Buff
Flower Pot Teapot and Mugs

The woman who bought the teapot comes to many of the shows I do, she's very sweet and always tells me how much she enjoys the teapot.  She uses it almost daily.  I love to hear that, I know she's building memories with it.

Flowerpot teapot by Future Relics Pottery
Flower Pot Teapot

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, May 12, 2014

Meatless Monday - Roasted Fennel, Clementines and Toasted Millet Salad

Have you ever cooked with Millet?  It's supposed to be really good for you, easily digested, and gluten free.  If you want to learn more about that click here.  I just know it tastes good so I've started using it in recipes.

Did you know that you can eat roasted Clementines including the skin, and it tastes really good?  I just learned that.  It's got a bit of a chewy texture, similar to a sundries tomato and the roasting removes any bitterness.  Trust me on this.

Roasted Fennel, Tangerine and Toasted Millet Salad by Future Relics
Roasted Fennel, Clementines and Toasted Millet Salad


3 Clementines
2 medium fennel bulbs
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¼ cup orange juice, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 cup millet
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried mint
 A few sprigs of fresh thyme
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup kalamata olives


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Wash the Clementines  Leave the peels on and slice them horizontally. Cut the fennel bulbs vertically and then slice ½ inch wedges. Place them in a baking dish or roasting pan. In a small bowl whisk 3 tablespoons of the oil with 2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon mustard, a generous pinch of salt and the sugar until combined (save the bowl to use again). Pour the marinade on top of the clementines and fennel and mix everything until the fruit and fennel is well coated. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, then stir and roast for another 15-20 minutes until the fennel is browned along the edges and soft.

During the last 5 minutes of bake time add the olives.

While the fruit and veggies are roasting, prepare the millet. In a large saucepan over medium heat toast the millet for about 5-7 minutes until it becomes golden. Be careful not to burn it. Once toasted, add the water (it will sputter when you put it into the warm pan so be careful) and bring to a boil. Cover the millet and turn the heat to low. Let the millet cook for another 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Turn the heat off and allow to steam covered for another 10 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

While the millet cooks, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon mustard. Place the millet into a large bowl and pour the dressing over top and mix it to combine. Add the herbs and another pinch of salt. Remove the fennel and tangerines from the oven and add them to a serving bowl with millet. Stir to combine. Top with fresh parsley.

Pottery by Berkshire Pottery, Covert Pottery, Future Relics Pottery, and Alice Woodruff

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Friday, May 9, 2014

Potter's Cast Interview

A few weeks ago Paul Blais contacted me about doing an interview for a new podcast he was starting about potters.  Paul is a potter and also does another podcast called Doubt the Doubts.  Since I listen to a lot of podcasts and audio books while I'm working in the studio I thought this would be a fun way to give back.  I was not disappointed.  I enjoyed this so much, the time flew by and the interview ended too soon.

Now it's live on iTunes and I'm super excited.  The webpage for the podcast is: http://thepotterscast.com/LoriBuff/

You can also find my interview and the others in iTunes here:

If you like the podcast giving it a good rating and a comment really helps boost it in iTunes and helps keep it going so doing that would be greatly appreciated.

I've also embedded it here to make it easy for you to listen to now.

If you like listening to interview with other potters you should also try:

Ben Carter's Tales of a Red Clay Rambler
The Firing Log

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Berry Picking Time

The first strawberries of the season are ripe, the blueberries are growing fatter every day, raspberries and blackberries are ripening in the wild...it must be Spring.  If you aren't growing any berries at your home you can always find some fresh ones in the grocery store or at the farmers markets this time of year.  Naturally you'll want to wash them before you eat them or serve them to your family so you might want a berry bowl for that.

Ceramic Fruit Colander by Future Relics Gallery
Berry Bowl

I'm always a little surprised when someone comes into my booth, sees a berry bowl, and asks how it's used.  When I tell them that it's for washing and serving fresh fruit and berries they realize that it's a good thing and some thing they need or want to give as a gift.

You may need one too, you can find them in my Etsy store.

Speaking of strawberries, last spring we found a nest with two baby bunnies in our strawberry patch, their is a new nest there this year.  Growing up in a strawberry patch seems like a good idea.  Mama rabbit is no dumb bunny.  We learned that her milk is so rich with nutrients that she only has to come feed them once or twice a day for a few minutes.  That's not because she's a bad mother, it's to keep preditors from finding the nest.  Pretty interesting, huh?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teapot Tuesday - Ash Glazed Teapot

It's Teapot Tuesday again.  The perfect time to check up on all your favorite potter's teapots.  The one I'm posting today is a sweet little pot decorated with the combination of ash glazes that I use on quite a lot of my functional pottery.  I spray on these glazes to get the effect that you see here.  I like the feathered blending that spraying gives.

Teapot for two with ash glazes by Future Relics Gallery
Ash Glazed Teapot

This teapot is small, it holds about two cups of tea.  Perfect for an intimate tea party, just two people or all by yourself.  It sold to a very nice couple who came the the holiday show I do at Paideia School.  I happened to be there when they bought it and it was so nice to see how much they loved the little pot.  I still get a warm feeling when I think of it and hope they will enjoy the teapot and each other for a very long time.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, May 5, 2014

Meatless Monday - Spaghetti Dinner

Every now and then someone will say something like "I don't know how to cook for vegetarians."  I understand this issue because their are so many versions of vegetarians.  The Wikipedia entry on vegetarians lists 10 different types of vegetarianism. Some don't eat any animal products at all, they are normally called vegans, their are pescetarians who eat fish and seafood but no other meat, and many other variations.  It's often a good idea so simply ask someone what they will and will not eat.  This is an especially good idea when we think about people having food allergies also.  I

t's not all that difficult to make a terrific meal for someone who is on a restrictive diet.  You can often make a few simple changes to something you'd normally cook.  Take the traditional spaghetti dinner for example.  The tomato sauce can be made without meat, you're simply subtracting that step if it's something you normally do.  Then it's just a matter of sautéing some chopped onion and garlic in olive oil, throwing in a can of tomato sauce and your favorite herbs and spices.

Dinner in hand crafted pottery
Spaghetti Dinner
You'll want to check the package for the pasta.  If someone doesn't eat eggs than don't buy egg noodles for sure.  If they can't eat gluten then get a gluten free pasta.   The package information will guide you and it's never a bad thing to know what's in the food we are putting into our bodies.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, add some spaghetti sauce and serve with some cheese (vegan cheese if you don't eat dairy), and some good, crusty bread.  Simple.

Many people add their own twist to the sauce like chopped vegetables or special herbs and spices.  We have friends that add mint leaves to the sauce.  I would never have thought of this but it's delicious.  What do you put in your spaghetti sauce?

Pots by Geoff Pickett, Cynthia Bringle, Lora Rust, and Lori Buff

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Friday, May 2, 2014

Where to Display the Price Tag

The various topics around selling art keep coming up.  It's show season here in Atlanta and many other places where the weather is starting to get nice so it just makes sense.  I hear a lot of conversation about pricing our work but little about displaying the price.  It seems their are only two schools of thought on that, either show the price prominently or make it a little more discrete so it doesn't detract from the beauty or the piece.

If you display the price tag in a place that is seen immediately upon viewing the art people will know if they can afford it or not.  They will know if it's in the price range for their budget.  They will know if the piece is safe or not.  For example, some potters will sell mugs for $10 (I think they are giving those away), some will sell a mug for $100 and everywhere in between.  So if a customer walks into my booth or a gallery that sells my pottery they can look at the price and decide if it's safe to explore that mug further.

The other thought is if you show them the price right away, the potential customer may make a decision based only on price.  They may not pick up the pot and feel the weight or the texture.  They won't turn it over and look at the foot or the other details that make the difference between a low dollar item and a more expensive piece.
Pottery Vase by Future Relics Gallery
Vase with Tie Tag

As often as possible I will use tie tags that have the price and my contact info on them.  I try to keep the tie tag out of the way of testing the piece because I don't want it to be distracting.  Have you ever tried on a pair of sunglasses just to wonder how they would look on you if they didn't have a large tag  hanging off of them blocking the lower part of your face?  That's my motivation.

Which do you prefer?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Time For A New Booth?

It seems like artist, maybe potters specifically, are frequently making changes to the design of our booths.  It's probably part of our personality traits, we are always trying new forms and glazes, why not a new booth?  I've been thinking about this lately because of being caught in the rain a few times.  I have an Ez-up tent that is a few years old, it's from before they started using Velcro on the side walls so the walls are anything but Ez.  Needless to say, I don't use them when I don't think I have to but that means I risk my shelves getting wet in a sudden storm.

I love my shelves.  They are good looking, strong, flexible, and hold a lot of pots. They are heavy which is a pain in the neck when I'm moving them around, but also means they don't tip over very easily. They do take some time to assemble and break down at shows but we've got it down to a science so it's quicker than you'd expect.  The only problem is that they don't like getting wet and they will become unusable if they get wet too much.
Future Relics Pottery Festival display booth
Pottery Booth

So I'm thinking about a new booth design.  I'm toying with all sorts of ideas but none seems perfect -if that's even possible.  What do you use or think would make a brilliant pottery display?  I'd love to see pictures of other 3D artists booths.  I'd also like to hear from non-artists about your ideas since you see the festival booth from a different angle.

Thanks for all your comments.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff