Jump to content

Most Liked Content

#96312 Wheel Throwing Progress

Posted by GiselleNo5 on 25 November 2015 - 04:01 AM

This picture makes me so happy that I wanted to share it. 

I started learning to throw last October. It was a very, very bumpy road and I didn't start having things to keep until mid-February. I almost gave up. To be honest, I did give up, for weeks at a time, but fortunately kept going back to it. 

The pitcher on the left is one of my very first "keepers", a little mug that I knocked against and decided to turn into a cream pitcher. It's one of my first attached handles, beginner slip trailing, the whole nine yards. 

The pitcher on the right was made about six months later. It's a pitcher because that's what I decided to make, not a mistake. I deliberately decorated and glazed it similar to the other one because I wanted to see them side by side like this. 

In every aspect of these two pieces, from the throwing, to trimming, the handles, decoration and even the glazing, I can see how much I've learned in less than a year. I can't wait to see what happens in another year! Maybe I'll be making pots that levitate or are invisible or something. Who knows. ;) 


#95233 Ok I Can't Resist, New Box Turned Out Great!

Posted by Pugaboo on 03 November 2015 - 11:07 PM

I can't resist showing you all my newest box.

I am so happy this box turned out even better than I thought it would. It was a test to see how much control I had over my glazes. I drew light stripes on the box to mimic gift wrap. I then glazed each a different color leaving a narrow strip of bare clay showing in between each glaze stripe. For the ribbon and the feet I used a roller to impress a scroll design. I shaped the ribbon into a roll that looked nice and could also be used as a knob. Once fired I added thin strips of laser transfer patterns to each glaze stripe, again using a different pattern for each color. The ends of the box got narrow strips of black to suggest folded over wrapping paper. The design goes all around the box ncluding the bottom.

It was a lot of work but I learned a lot about what my materials can handle and plan to push this even further next time.


Attached Files

#105681 Throwing Small Narrow Vessels In Porcelain

Posted by Dick White on 25 April 2016 - 08:25 AM

When pulling taller forms, the diagonal buckling you describe (which we have all seen and experienced, nothing unsual) is the result of the friction of your fingers slightly restricting the speed of rotation at that point while the wheelhead continues at full speed, combined with the wall being insufficiently strong to withstand the slowing of the upper area. The two variables are 1) the declining strength of the wall, and 2) the increasing distance between the point of good strength (usually where the vessel is attached to the wheelhead) and the point of friction restricting rotation. In other words, thinness and height. Thinner, and the piece will wrinkle. Taller, and the piece will wrinkle. To resolve the discrepancy you need to disconnect thinness and height. But that sounds absurd when the objective is throwing thinner and taller.


What I teach is that you can, and must, disconnect the two concepts by working the vessel in sections. Throw the cylinder to a moderate thickness (and I use the word thickness purposely here, we are not yet in the realm of thin) as tall as you can. Try to reach the point just before you know the dreaded wrinkle will begin to occur. Stop pulling up and consolidate/strengthen/dry the wall of the cylinder with a good ribbing. Now begin a new style of pulling up the cylinder wall by starting halfway up. In stage one, only raise the top half of the cylinder, making it taller and thinner. Complete that section with another good ribbing. Because you left the bottom half thick and strong and are working only the top half which is (obviously) shorter than the whole cylinder, you have now defeated variable #2 above. The distance between the upper point of friction and the lower point of strength (the middle of the cylinder which is still thick and strong) is short enough that you can achieve thinness without wrinkling. Now shift to stage two, the bottom half of the cylinder. Reach down through the now completed top half of the cylinder all the way to the base, and begin to pull it up. As you reach the midpoint where you earlier began the top half work, ease up and transition out. Do NOT continue up through the already completed top half. Again, the distance between the friction of your throwing fingers and the lower point of strength (now the wheelhead again) is short enough that it won't wrinkle. The moment you continue up into the thin top half (which I told you not to do), you are in wrinkle territory again. From this point on, only gentle shaping is allowed, no more vigorous pulling up.


One final observation. You must always pull up the cylinder wall as quickly and efficiently as you can. The more times you pull it and the longer you take to do it will cause the clay to be overworked and weakened. There is nothing you can do to pull overworked weak clay any taller. It may seem to pull taller, but the moment you let go, it will slump back down. Strive for three pulls maximum before you shift to the top half/bottom half routine.


As I tell my students, now it's your turn to do it.

#76076 Finding Your Own Style...easy To Say

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.





#93941 Glaze Test City

Posted by High Bridge Pottery on 08 October 2015 - 10:34 AM


#90117 Feeling Like A Complete Potter

Posted by PRankin on 03 August 2015 - 08:42 AM

I'm sitting in front of my brand new kiln enjoying watching the temperature rise and listening to the controller clicking during its inaugural firing. Its an Olympic Medallion Artist Series 18x18 inch unit with a Bartlett V6-CF controller and is nestled in my garage where the electrician installed a 220 line last week. I ordered it from Clay-King and it was delivered in 3 days.

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.


#96620 Qotw: What Is The Most Daring Material You Ever Added To Clay Or Glaze?

Posted by Chris Campbell on 01 December 2015 - 02:13 PM

I have added safe stuff to my clay like chicken grit, rice, tea, coffee grounds, moss, leaves ...
the most fun was when I added bits of my unsuccessful, fired colored clay pieces back into new work.

I smashed them with a heavy hammer ( they were wrapped in cloth ) then sieved the scraps by size. I put the larger bits into a ball mill using the smaller bits as grit. When they were smooth I wedged them into fresh clay and made work with it. Next time I will mill them a day longer to take off more sharp edges.
The work is beautiful as it cracked around the pieces as it dried and fired.

Attached Files

#92966 Show Us Your Teapots

Posted by joebwv on 21 September 2015 - 09:02 AM

here is my favorite


Attached Files

#86771 Should I Start Pottery Or Not? Advice Please.....

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.  ;)





#77134 What Do You Get Out Of This Forum Interaction?

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.

#123486 Fish For Ideas-Indonesia Sea Creatures

Posted by Mark C. on 09 March 2017 - 08:42 PM

Just returned from a month long trip

Spent the that two weeks on a remote Island which is part of 4 islands called Wakatobi.

If you google this you will find our paradise for diving.

It was a three hour flight east from Bali in  extreme southern Sulawesi.

The plane fly's once a week-we spent two weeks there diving. I dove 3 dives a day and shot 1,000s of underwater photos

I have yet to see them all.

Here are a few-the 1st is my setup-a Nikon D300 in subal housing with two strobes-weighs about 12#s

the second is a bubble coral shrimp

next-leaf fish

poisonous banded sea snake hunting fish

clown fish


crocodile fish

pufferfish close up

pigmy sea horse

fire dart fish


One last note about these shots is this underwater photo thing has been a passion of mine since 1983





Attached Files

#115685 Ceramic Pincushions-Everything You Need To Know To Make Them

Posted by Mark C. on 04 November 2016 - 08:43 PM

Ok maybe you never have thought about them but if you did here is how they are made or at least one way to make them.

I used to make these and do not anymore due the fact that the market died. I made hundreds of them each year in the 70’s -80’s and 90’s. My guess is folks stopped sewing about 2001. Maybe it was a few years later. If they develop an App for sewing on the I-phone, maybe sewing will come back someday. Since I’m one the sons of a mother who taught home economics for a lifelong career I know a bit about fabric and sewing.

This is the only pincushion I kept from 3 decades of making them. Most where glazed in solid colors. A few had these cobalt cats and some pigs and a few dogs as well as a few other animals but the lions share where solid glaze colors. All where fired to cone 10 and all porcelain? The glazes where snappy bright.

The holes that hold the string are optional ( they work without this touch) and if you make a tool like the one shown which is laminated plastic it will make the holes space out perfectly-they now sell this tool on the market now from some supplier(MK?). I made mine before that existed in the 70's. It makes the 6-hole space very quick.Just drop in center of circle form and use a needle tool to score some light marks for the holes.

You throw the base and let dry a tad them add the holes –I use a brass hole maker to cut the small hole in the clay when its just right moisture wise. Dry, then fire as normal.I suggest cleaning the glaze from the holes with a needle too or (small drill bit-best) before firing so they do not clog up

The fabric is 10-to 12-inch squares-I used to but only remnants as cheap as I could fine prints and solids. I used polyester batting as the stuffing. I got mine free from a local manufacturer who used large amounts and would give me the non-perfect stuff-I got it by the truckload literally. To assemble you would cut the batting and stuff it into a piece of ladies pantyhose (I got large amounts of these at thrift shops). You would cut the legs into 3rds and stuff the batting and tie it off into a ball. These where covered with the fabric and color matched to the glazes-I use about 15 glazes not counting combos. Matching it up is an art as well.

I use a 3.5-inch neoprene rubber bottom on them to keep them from sliding around-I bought these by the hundreds. These where a big hit especially during the holiday’s as gifts.

Now that you know how to make them you can make a few yourself .I considered writing a piece in a magazine about these but this is easier and more direct. My last suggestion was never responded to anyway. Those editors must be a touchy bunch.

I gave up this form over a decade ago.They still are cute and you never know somebody may still sew?

Happy pinning


Attached Files

#98317 Cute Fox Bowl Wip (As Requested)

Posted by Cavy Fire Studios on 29 December 2015 - 11:51 PM

This bowl measures about 10" across and 3" tall. It's for my fella, who fancies himself a fox with corgi colors, and has a fondness for tea and coffee. ♥
Main colors are Duncan EZ and Mayco Underglaze. Blacks are Clay Art Center's baltic black A and Amaco's black velvet (watered down for shading). This is greenware, Clay Art Center's X-Tra White.

Attached Files

#95978 Old School Dinnerware Set For Customer

Posted by Mark C. on 18 November 2015 - 03:34 PM

Nobody orders 12 place settings anymore.Its usually 4 or 6 or 8 of whatever. I took this order in March to bring to a show in December  (out of state show) for a 3 piece 12 place setting. Glazed in landscape.

The set just came out and every piece was flawless. Thats something that NEVER happens. I have 13 place settings in flatware and 5 extra bowls.

The plates are 10 inch the salad are 8 inch and the bowls are 6 inch. Porcelain fired to a how cone 11 in reduction.

I think she will be pleased as it looks as good as these glazes and get.



Attached Files

#88210 Members With Etsy Stores?

Posted by Callie Beller Diesel on 03 July 2015 - 11:32 AM

I've had my etsy shop open for about a year, and it is not a success. The lack of success is solely on my own lack of knowledge and skill, I am not going to blame Etsy for it at all.
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.

#87939 Members With Etsy Stores?

Posted by Joseph F 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.

#77494 Authenticity, My Own Personal Struggle With What It Means

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.

#70289 Overcoming Insecurity

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  :wub:


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.   :wacko:


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  :rolleyes:    

#101330 To Me

Posted by bciskepottery on 03 February 2016 - 12:15 PM

#100000 Business Advice Aka How Not To Eat Cat Food For Dinner

Posted by MikeFaul on 17 January 2016 - 06:24 PM



Limitations on income are not so much a function of price or even your labor contribution. Really, the limit is more a function of what you want to do with your business. If you desire a small business that generates several hundred thousand in revenue to say $1.0M or more that's definitely possible. I know of a few production pottery studios in this class. If you want to work for something even larger, again certainly with time and effort it is possible. I spoke with someone the other week who started in her garage and now employs 30 people making artistic and architectural tiles. Her business I believe is probably in the neighborhood of $15M per year, but it took about 20 or so years to get there.


The ability to generate wealth is there in this market. At least in certain segments of the market. Weather you desire enough income for personal comfort or to grow a business I would suggest that making pretty pots and going to shows is a very risky approach. This is more gambling than business. It's akin to buying a lottery ticket and hoping your numbers are drawn.


Now some potters have done this quiet well over the years. They have worked out, through trial and error, the market research. They know that a kiosk here performs well, but one in this other spot not so well. A coffee shop does good, but a bakery in a warehouse district is a big nope. All of this knowledge was acquired because they tried, failed, tried again and succeeded. The cumulation of these trials became their market research.


Given your stage in life you may not have 10 years to take the trial and error path. It takes a long time, and its expensive.


The problem here is you don't know if someone will show up at the show who likes your style, aesthetic, color choices, surface design, etc. And, you can't rely on your friends and family. You need to listen to the impartial voice of the market. I would suggest you take the time, while your still working to conduct some market research and find a segment of the market that makes a good fit for your skills. This might be funeral homes (urns). Or, maybe it's bobble head dolls. Perhaps it's left handed olive oil cruets? I have no idea, only your research can answer this question for you.


Find your market segment, make some pots, take them to people in that market and start asking a lot of questions about how to make the pot better for them. Make no assumptions and don't rely on "congenital wisdom". Collect all of that information, revise your design accordingly and then start making those pots for that market


Our original beer mug held 14 oz and we used something like 1.25 lbs of clay to throw the cylinder. When we took it out to our customers and asked them about our beautiful feather weight design, they laughed at us. But, they also told us what they didn't like about it, and what they didn't like was everything we, as potters love, go figure. We went back and redesigned the mug their way. I'm not going to say exactly what we did, but the first week we released the new design we sold 1,200 pieces. The most expensive coffee mug we've sold in 2015 was $200. The most expensive beer mug was slightly less than that. We've even been commissioned to make hand carved family crest steins (5 Liter) that sold for $1,500. Our customers create these prices themselves off of base prices starting as low as $27.50 for a coffee mug. 


Good planning can turn a $27.50 coffee mug into $100 experience and your customers will love you for it. And, you'll love them for the great reviews, notes, and phone calls they send you. Good planning can turn a $44.95 beer mug into $175 celebration, or $57.50 wine goblet into $225 wedding chalice. I'm constantly telling my team we are not in the pottery business, we are in the Merry Christmas, Happy Anniversary, I Love You Mom, Proud of You Son, Wouldn't Have Anyone, But You Husband, Can't Believe You Did It, Praying for You to Feel Better, I knew You Could Do It business... When we realize that we can make an experience where the price is really in consequential. 


Write a business plan, and pay a lot of attention to your marketing plan. Stick to your plan for the first year. Get yourself some advisors you can talk to, you will hit many stumbling blocks (stuff you didn't know you didn't know). Having mentors to call will be VERY helpful if for no other reason to know you're not alone in experiencing the issue. Plus this will solve problems and save tons of money in your first year-money you would have spent figuring stuff out.


Take it slow, maybe in year one do this part time and keep a governor on your pottery business. In year two work part time and allow more pottery sales. In year three, go full time with your pottery business. 


If you find the right market segment you get good steady sales right out of the gate providing your product quality and production process allows you to perform to the demands of the market. If your show based, that means having a stocked booth. If you're prepaid internet based, that means onetime shipping. If you're a wholesaler, it will mean going beyond making pots to helping your customers solve problems with your product (value ad).


Suppose you throw at a pace of 7.5 pots per hour. And, you throw 15 pots per day. Handling should take you about 2 or 3 minutes per pot, so that's another 45 minutes. Include prep time and you're put to may 4 1/2 hours a day, maybe 5. Let's say one of your production days is a Saturday and you work another 3 days a week in year one. You're producing 60 pots per week. I'm not sure of your kiln capacity, but I'm guessing that's about one kiln load of material. 


So, if you do your market research properly I'm willing to bet you could ramp up to 4 or 5 sales per day in your etsy shop. Now, let's say your average sale is only $35 on Etsy. From our experience, if you do your planning properly that's about 1/2 what you can do on average. So, you're revenue is $140 to $175  per day. That works out to $4,200 to $5,100 a month. So, that's grossing around $50 to $60K per year with schlepping around to shows. And, you only have to do some minor social media marketing-most of which is free, and loads of fun.


Now, I can't emphasize this enough, this works because you're making pots for the market and not to gratify your own desires as an artist. In this model you're using your talents as an artist to satisfy the wants and needs of the market not trying to make a statement and hope the market cares.


All of this takes a lot of planning and fore thought. Do not discount this, it's more important than learning to center, pull, wedge, or any technical technique. If you can't operate as a business all you have is a lot of pretty gifts for your friends. If you operate as a business, you have cash to buy gifts for your friends and family--your choice.


Sorry... I have a cold and I'm babbling...