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Posted by PRankin on 03 August 2015 - 08:42 AM
I was very dependent on the local community college's studio with unlimited time, free clay, use of wheels and especially firing but due to damage and theft of some of my work by the students I decided to purchase my own kiln. I've had my own wheel for about a year and a half and have been shuttling my work to the school but that was always a pain so now I feel like a complete independent potter with all of my own equipment and on my own schedule. This is very exciting and I can't wait to put in a real bisque load tomorrow or the next day.
When the semester starts in September I will continue to use the college's facilities because I enjoy working in the group setting with other seniors (and its free) and I help the students but I'll be more wary of where my work is, less trusting and not so dependent on them because I HAVE MY OWN KILN.
Posted by JBaymore on 24 February 2015 - 01:35 PM
Go online and into the (gasp) library (you know those things called books ) and start looking at images. Then start a "clip book" (digital or physical) of the pieces that you say, "I wish I made that" about. Amass at least 100 images.
Then from that selection of images narrow it down to about 20 images that you REALLY feel strongly about. Put the rest away.
Then (yup....writing) write out the commonalities of traits that you see in the remaining 20 objects. Use the language of the principles of art and design for this as well as and words that stress feelings. Write at length. If initially you can't see connections... look deeper..... they WILL be there.
Then spend some time analyzing that set of commonalities you drafted.
Next....................... take one of your physical pieces from the photo you posted above... and set it on the table in front of you and next to the papers with the listings you just came up with. Ask yourself "What could I do to change THIS piece to reflect some of the common characteristics that I listed"? Write those thoughts down. Then get a sketch pad and using the piece in front of you as a "model", draw the "new" piece as you now envision it. Look at that fuirst sketch and revise it to improce on it. Do that a few times.
Then once you have a couple of sketches..... go MAKE that piece you drew in the last sketch.
THEN.... (nope not done yet)............... look at the new piece and assess what you feel is working on it, and what could be improved.
Make the same exact piece again.... but making ONLY the changes you just articulated. Everything that you did NOT say should be changed should look like a Xerox copy of the prior piece.
Repeat this process on THIS object a number of times.
DO this diligently on the first object...and then a few others the same way................ and you'll no longer be asking about how to do this.
Posted by JBaymore on 08 June 2015 - 06:06 PM
Welcome to the forum.
As has been said...... start out easy and slowly. Don't put the cart ahead of the horse. The view from "inside" might be different than the view from "outside". After you've take a FEW classes...... then you'll know if the investment of a wheel and kiln makes any sense for your situation.
And by the way.......... asking for "objective" advice here from this group is like walking into a bar full of alcoholics and asking if they thought you should start drinking.
Posted by Diesel Clay on 03 July 2015 - 11:32 AM
I got into it thinking it would be a small but growing income stream that I could start my business with, and it seemed be a good place to start an online professional presence. Knowing what I know now from etsy, I would build the online presence with a website first, and then add e-commerce once I had a bigger real life following.
My experience of it is that Etsy is a tool, and like any tool you need to know how to use it properly, and you need to have an idea of what you want to accomplish with it to get the most out of it. (I am still trying to figure out the way that works best for me. )
Things that I have learned in my year, in no particular order:
-You will not be found randomly in search (too many other vendors, not enough clarity in the categories). You need to learn SEO (I'd focus on google search more) and drive people to your site yourself through other marketing means. Mostly that last one. If you have an existing following or are already business savvy, this will go more smoothly than if no one has ever heard of you before.
-if you fill out all the forms and shop sections (policies, About, etc.)and really craft your listings well, it's a good exercise for improving your photography and content writing skills. This helps if you want to build your own website with a drop and drag template from Weebly or wix, and it can give you some good starting blocks if you're applying to shows and contests and things. Consider starting an Etsy shop to be a tutorial.
-stay off the forums, unless you need quick technical help. Choose your source of shop critique carefully, don't just throw it open to the random public unless you want every piece of contradictory advice available. The Handbook however, has some good resources, especially for photography.
-there are alternate ways of using Etsy successfully. Ayumie Horie and Carole Epp both leave their stores empty most of the time, and advertise flash sales and build hype on their social media a week or so before posting anything for sale. Their stores tend to empty out in 24-48 hours so packing and shipping is done all at once. This method seems to work best for people who already have a following. (I believe Mea does something similar with her Big Cartel page at Christmas.) This is part of a "multiple streams of income" type plan.
-Etsy isn't juried in any way for quality of work. As Chris pointed out, it would be a nightmare. John is also correct that someone can curate a show or collection, but they have another word for that: Gallery. Etsy is a lot of things, but a gallery isn't one of them. If you're just starting out, I think you have to ask yourself if you want to be in a huge online sale with everyone from Justin Rothshank to the twelve year old who is selling rainbow loom bracelets so her mom can teach her about entrepreneurship. Both are worthy pursuits, but I'm not sure having them both on the same playing field is a service to either.
-Etsy is time consuming, especially if you are just learning a bunch of stuff. You will get out what you put in.
-it's a secure, trusted online platform. If you have people looking for your things in between craft sales, it can be a good gap-filler.
-in hindsight, it wasn't the good beginner step I thought it would be for financial reasons. It taught me a lot of other valuable things that I wasn't expecting though.
Posted by Grype on 28 June 2015 - 04:15 PM
I have a friend who makes his entire living off selling jewelry on etsy. Makes 6 figures from home. Took him over 3 years of hard work to get there, but the main thing he said is that you need to list items. The more items you list the better off you are. Then as you start selling you will know what to make more of and what to make less of. Keep adapting and modifying pricing until you get the sweet spot where you get the amount of work your comfortable with. He didn't start hitting a lot of sales until he had over 200 items in his shop. Now he sales 30-40 pieces a day. Of course he makes jewelry with a machine that does 95% of the work, and the hand made part is his designs that he came up with. Etsy has changed its policies a lot lately on these things. The stock prices have been falling quickly because of the market place becoming machine made things that resemble hand made.
He said the main thing you need to do is streamline the process for the things your going to be listing. So find shapes that fit into the same size boxes, find out how much it cost to ship those boxes and start only with those shapes so that the shipping stuff doesn't become the kink in your operation. After you get that down you can expand onto other shapes, but it is expensive in the beginning to stock different sized boxes and things for different shaped objects. He also said make sure your packaging is nice. It is nice to open a nice box into a nice thing. Will make people happier.
His recommendation to me was to make anything that would fit into a box that would hold a single 16oz mug. So small bowls, small vases, spoon rest, sponge holders or anything else that would fit into that size box. Then once you have the materials and are selling those products to add another size box and all the things that go with it. His advice was the move into a box that would hold 4 mug boxes, so you could ship sets of 4 and what ever would go into that box. Big mixing bowls, platters etc etc.
Pictures are everything. You need to have a picture that shows the item nicely, another that displays it in its natural environment, one that shows the size compared to objects that it will be around, and one that shows the detail of the piece. Some of this can be done with a single picture depending on the object one is selling.
Beyond that he said its just finding out what people want to buy. The best price range is the 25 dollar price range. He said if you can get a product that you can sell for a good profit at 20-25 dollars that will be your best earner, but will require a lot of manual labor for pottery.
I have done my own research at the bigger pottery stores on etsy, there are a few who have a lot of sales.
The number one things I have found that sell are: sponge holders, mugs, cereal bowls, spoon rest, bud vases, and yarn bowls. All of those things vary greatly in prices from 10 to 50 dollars depending on the amount of detail in the pot.
Another thing he said was to make sure the first people buying from you are happy. Eventually Etsy will allow them to leave reviews on your shop on the item they purchased, you want those 5 stars. His other thing was 100% satisfaction guarantee. You don't want people giving you anything but 5 stars. No review is better than 4 stars he said. So make sure that if they are unhappy they know they can ship the item back and just lose the shipping cost and you refund their money. He said it was vital to his business. He has like 3K reviews almost all 5 stars.
So all in all, it is a lot of work. But until you start getting sales, its just taking pictures and creating a listing, so I guess its not too much work until you start getting sales. If you can stream line your pictures to listing process and have some general templates built that you use for listing products it is pretty simple. I help my mother in law sell dog dresses on etsy. She has made over 7k selling dog dresses in 2 years. But she sells high end 80-90 dollar dog dresses. People are crazy.
Posted by Tyler Miller on 17 March 2015 - 01:55 AM
This is something I wrote to articulate a struggle I've been having with my own work and to help me resolve my feelings about it. I thought I'd share because it may help others crystallize their own artistic project. I will disclaim that the contents may not sit well with you the reader, but it is not meant to be directed outward, this comes from my own perception of myself and no one else. Please bear that in mind. This is 100% an internal and personal criticism directed at myself, no one else.
I’ve come to the conclusion that my impulses as a potter have come into conflict. On the one hand, i want to explore and understand EVERY form. i want to know why Wedgewood is beautiful, why chawan can be perfection and how to get there, how to make the most perfect imitation of a longquan celadon, or get the highest gloss possible on an attic red-figure copy.
But on the other, I can’t help but feel like I’m betraying myself and my own potential for a naturalistic artistic vision if I carry those desires too far.
Horace and Hamada ring in my ears. I can’t help but think about what Hamada said about the pretentiousness of Japanese potters adding granite to their clay to make it like the prized clays of Shigaraki that naturally had it present, or the excessive effort put into applying hake me brush strokes in a beautiful manner when the Korean potters who came up with the technique were just hoping to cover the red clay of the body.
Indeed, there are many Hamada copyists who miss entirely Hamada’s artistic vision. Hamada was a brilliant potter who could work in any style and formulate any glaze to fit his purpose, but he chose to be a Mashiko potter and work within the limitations of that folk tradition. The boldness and revolutionary nature wasn’t his forms, it wasn’t his subject matter, it was that he let those decisions make themselves as he set down roots. Leach (and Cardew) tried to do something similar, but he found that he couldn’t authentically work in the English country potter tradition as he’d hoped. Cardew’s attempts especially failed at making slipware commercially viable the way he’d hoped. After all, it wasn’t too long after Cardew was struggling to make it work that the last old time English country potteries closed. I suspect potters like Isaac Button would've thought Cardew “daft” for being too precious with “nought but clay.”
Leach’s true success was his marketing. The studio potter was his invention and I’m not quite sure I properly know what being a studio potter is all about. Maybe you do. But the concept eludes me.
What bothers me, however, is how many Hamada and Leach copyists exist out there. How many little brown jugs and pitchers exist, how many tea bowls are thrown, only to be an awkward way to drink Earl Grey or a latté, or how many anagamas are built in North America and Europe. It may all be a part of the natural progression of studio potters—the artist’s indulgence in the process seems to be part of the process, and that’s fine. But to what extent are we really just adding granite to our finely levigated clay? To what extent are we just lingering too long over how we’re going to apply our slip with a rough brush, when maybe we should be thinking about how best to do justice to our art as a continuation of ourselves?
It’s too easy to don masks and pretend we’re one thing or another. Playing at pretend is almost a right in the western world. We’ve allowed ourselves the luxury of saying “well, I’m pagan, but I really like buddhist meditation, and I wear a rosary to honour my great aunt, who was a nun—I can still feel her spirit with me.” To me, as I get older, this kind of pastiche of cultural appropriation seems to miss the point entirely. We can dissemble ourselves into oblivion, when the point of it all is to seek and express truth. Can a westerner truly grasp wabi-sabi? Maybe academically, but I think we only have limited choices before us when it comes to approaching another culture, we can step into it through a contextualized “window” of study, we can compartmentalize its attributes into our own, preexisting culture, or we can let it wash over us and envelope us and change us, but even then, we’re never quite authentically a part of it. Disagree? Examine how you feel about immigrants who come to where you live, do they ever really become a part of your culture in your eyes? Is the person with an accent ever really American/Canadian/Mexican/British/French/Swiss/or Japanese? I want them to feel like they are, but they know as well as I do that’s not an identity they get. Their children and their children’s children get that, but never them.
So too, I feel it is with culture. We will always have a cultural “accent” when we work within an artistic context other than our own. I’m getting pretty good at throwing Hellenic forms and I make a decent chawan, but they’re not real, my Canadian accent is too thick for me to speak proper Greek (οὐκ ὀρθως ἑλληνίζω). And while it’s a good and acculturating experience for me to try and expose myself to different cultures and ideas, at some point it becomes an exercise in hiding from oneself. At some point that in-between space between cultures becomes an insulation. Something like: I cannot identify with my own culture, so I adopt another to act as a mask among my own people, a means of explaining myself through other peoples and hiding myself the same way. Maybe the artist has a right to do this, but I’ve never been comfortable with that kind of conceptual art. It seems too much like the Animé fan girls who obsess over Japanese culture and pine over its superiority in order to compensate for their own struggle to fit in. Or a friend of mine who constantly travels, with no roots anywhere. When things get “too real” in any one place, he moves on, and finds a new set of friends and a new culture.
But all this begs the question? What do I do as an artist to be authentic to myself and my work? I think Horace’s Ars Poetica has a venerable answer. A painter cannot legitimately paint a horse’s neck with a human head and all manner of feathers and features down below. At least, not without proper context. A writer sounds ridiculous writing a day’s events in purple prose. There’s a proper register and justice to be done to everything. A proper way to work with clay. Indeed, i think that’s what the Japanese are talking about when they talk about the “flavour” of the clay. It’s like a wine’s terroir. A certain kind of climate does the best justice to a certain kind of grape. And so too, I think a certain land produces a certain kind of clay, a certain culture a certain set of vessels, and a certain person a certain kind of approach. There’s little place for obfuscation in this, I think. No real reason to try to appropriate another culture, at least, for any length of time. The culture you grew out of is culture enough. And really, the best artists I know, seem to shoot at something above it anyway, they look too deeply inward. Their imitators, however, seem all too superficial by comparison.
Posted by LeeU on 20 November 2014 - 10:45 AM
OK, Ms. Guinea "furry critter" potter............this is from MY experience, so try not to personalize or view as targeted criticism...that is not where I am coming from
When I was a student at the School of the Arts (Crafts Department, VCU) several instructors gave me painful "pull-ups". Pull-ups are blunt, sometimes harsh, reality checks that are used in an old-school drug treatment modality called Therapeutic Community. Screw up, and you'll find yourself scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush or sitting on the Hot Seat to receive scorching feedback, or getting onerous pull-ups from the community.
Well, I had an instructor who was forever giving me pull-ups. And I really got my feelings hurt and got very discouraged and was about to quit school. He'd say things like "Art is not therapy...it you need emotional help, get out of my class and go see a social worker." This type of comment might be delivered after I had to defend my lopsided vessel by disclosing that it was "off' because my hands were shaking when I centered because I was upset about "something".
The day I was going to quit I ran into another art instructor, and I was crying at the time. She asked what was wrong, sat on the steps with me, listened while I moaned about this instructor, and then said "Don't you dare quit. You just do your best and come see me if anyone gives you any ######." I lived to fight another day, and earned my degree.
(What neither of them knew was that I was in the shape I was in because I had been severely beaten by someone who knew how to not leave bruises where they show, that I was in a shelter with my toddler, that the batterer had totally destroyed my portfolio the night before the final critique, and that voc rehab was only very reluctantly paying for my school because I refused to work at McD's where they tried to place me. I insisted...with threat of legal action, since I had/have disabilities...that I could do something about and with my life if I could just go to art school.)
Long story long: I had to get off the pity-pot, stop awfulizing and cease whining about my sorry state of affairs, stop victimizing self, (participating in the killing of my own spirit by staying stuck), cop a positive attitude, and otherwise get a grip and make tough choices and tough changes to get myself out of the morass. Making a daily Gratitude List, as much as I hated it, also helped. I had so little gratitude that I had to start by listing my ten fingers and ten toes, I kid you not. Oh, and I did avail myself of some therapy.
Eventually I came to see that the comments on my work that Mr. No Sensitivity provided were just as valuable, in terms of improving my skills, as the pep-talks from Ms. Nice-guy. Today, I have to own the fact that, by virtue of being a student, I ASKED FOR feedback on my work, and thus can't complain that I got it! LOL
Posted by oldlady on 11 March 2015 - 09:29 AM
i will never write a book, i have nobody to leave my studio and equipment, i will not have made an impression on the clay world when i am gone. maybe something i have said will matter to someone here. those little "likes" are nice to see.
Posted by ChenowethArts on 13 May 2015 - 06:45 AM
I couldn't wait...so I fired one of these monsters because I really wanted a tall pot to transplant an Anthurium. It looks a little too commercial for me, but since it is for me (and the plant) I'll chalk it up to its functional, get over it From the comments here about my previous posts, I think I have an entry to the challenge all sketched-out that I'm a little more excited about. This is not my final entry, but I am definitely a proponent of putting a plant in the pot...from the movie Jerry MaGuire, "You complete me"...said the pot to the flower (not really...just a little poetic license).
Posted by Biglou13 on 07 May 2015 - 09:48 PM
plant pot that has been influenced from your research into the season of spring.
i have 3 potentials ...
a plant pot to me ...includes vase.... vase like vessels
now to research plant or plant like forms and their spring like relationship to vessels..... i wish there are ikebana people closer to north florida
ill break the ice with
work in progress
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Posted by Mark C. on 05 May 2015 - 08:48 PM
I had no idea when shooting those fish folks would comment on the space plate on end of table. These two came out of separate kilns one day apart. Both are cone 10 reduction fired on porcelain and are about 10 inch. Each has three glazes with a slight overlap.
Glazes where poured (with a funnel pitcher) and a ear syringe is how I applied my white glaze
These glazes like it a bit cool and unreduced to work best so I put them in my cold spots.
I have been doing these for a very long time on certain forms
I'm in deep space most of the time so they seem a nice fit for me.
Posted by Mark C. on 26 April 2015 - 08:31 PM
I had no plans of taking the time for another project -that said my (landscape with clouds square plate) that came out of last glaze kiln fits the bill
so FINAL ENTRY.
sorry about the poor photo.
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Posted by Benzine on 23 February 2015 - 08:12 PM
you can almost describe pulling as linear throwing.
That's essentially how I explain it to my students.
Also, another reason I enjoy pulled handles, is because I get to demonstrate it straight-faced, to a group of teenagers, while watching them try to not laugh...
Posted by JBaymore on 11 August 2014 - 10:28 PM
Some people asked me to keep some updates here on out progress. So...... here are a couple of shots of the first two days of the build:
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More to come in this thread. Check back every day or so if you are interested.
Posted by Cavy Fire Studios on 02 August 2015 - 03:37 PM
Terracotta is so much fun. ♥
Just gotta keep truckin', I guess. So says Guinea.
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Posted by ChenowethArts on 05 July 2015 - 03:28 PM
Final Entry - Community Challenge #2
If this works correctly, clicking on the image above should display three views of the finished tornado planter project. This has been fun. I appreciate the encouragement from others following my initial bisque explosion of the first version of this project. There are a few spin-off (pun intended) projects with a similar form but without the protruding legs of the wicked witch. I'll get some of those into the gallery once I can grab images from my camera instead of the cell phone.
Posted by Evelyne Schoenmann on 09 June 2015 - 05:25 AM
Final Entry - Evelyne Schoenmann
Here comes my contribution. A plant pot without the plant (apart from the leaves outside the pot...).
Grogged stoneware, sand rendering, 1x fired in electric kiln to cone 7. No glaze (clay color turns yellow when fired high).
Becky: you don't have to send the brownies all the way to Switzerland