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Everything posted by GEP

  1. Upside down orbital sander sounds like the right choice to me. It’s the gentlest of all the power sanders, and I like the idea that you can hold the pot with both hands while sanding. If you’re doing 1000 pots per year, make sure to wear a real respirator!
  2. GEP

    Websites And Sales

    Maybe it’s because I’ve already switched careers once. Walking away again doesn’t seem unthinkable. I will regard the pottery studio as my best and most challenging accomplishment. At the same time, it’s an all-consuming life. I have other other interests I’d like to explore. And frankly I’d like to lead a less labor-intensive life at some point.
  3. GEP

    Websites And Sales

    I've been using Weebly since 2010. Back then the idea of drag-and-drop, cloud-based website builders was very new. Weebly has met my needs, and at this point my blog is so lengthy that switching platforms would be a big hassle. If I was starting out right now, I would consider Weebly and Wix to be equivalent. Squarespace is more upscale. Unlike Weebly and WIx, Squarespace does not have a free tier, though their cheapest plan is reasonably priced. Squarespace does a much better job with design templates, so their sites have a modern and designerly look. From a designer standpoint, Weebly templates range from bad to mildly annoying. I am using the one I found least annoying. Having said that, I am currently building a second website on Weebly, and found one of their new templates to be less annoying (but still not crazy about it). I may try to switch my existing website to this new template. Switching templates on Weebly is possible, but sometimes results in a jumbled mess. It may or may not work. I don't do any e-commerce from my Weebly site. I sell online very infrequently, and only use the Weebly site as a portal to my BigCartel site. BigCartel is perfect for an infrequent e-commercer. Their lowest tier is free, and it can be upgraded for more capacity on a month-at-a-time basis. BigCartel's shopping cart and money handling capabilities are terrific. I am also now offering instructional videos, but again I am not using the Weebly site for commerce. It's just a portal to my Vimeo site. I don't think Weebly could handle what Vimeo does. Way down the road in the future, I am considering launching a new business after I've retired from full-time pottery. This one will be better suited for both wholesale and e-commerce. For that I will probably choose Squarespace (or its equivalent), because in that situation I'll need stronger e-commerce functions, and the modern and designerly look will have a real value.
  4. As if I needed more reasons to NOT sell online. The “no physical presence” rule has been repealed, and states can now set their own sales tax rules for online sellers. It’s possible we will need to learn 50 different sets of rules, and file 50 different sales tax returns. Madness! High Court: Online shoppers can be forced to pay sales tax
  5. Need to dry out and launder my entire display, after a rain-soaked weekend show.

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Pres


      Yeah, that is why I am doing more of the wholesale. My wife is not up to doing markets anymore, and I don't know as I do either. Penn State was fun, but in the long run not really worth it for me back then. Paper work of sales taxes, and other income tax was problematic also. So now, I am not having to do the sales tax and as long as I keep my W-9's and others in order along with my earnings, my tax man is happy.


    3. Gabby


      This brings back so many drenched camping memories.

    4. Pres


      Ha first camping trip I took my new wife on was to Acadia ME. It rained all most the entire trip, Had an old canvas tent of my grand parents! We got soaked, but she wanted to go again the next year, and every year after. First thing we got before leaving the next year was a new tent!





    5. Show next comments  3 more
  6. I’ve never taken the time to figure out cost-per-bucket of glaze. I only look at it as cost-per-year in glaze materials. I only spend about $300/year on glaze materials, and half of that is spent on tin oxide! $300 to glaze 2000 pots is so cheap, I don’t feel the need to analyze further.
  7. I use terry cloth towels. Mostly hand towels while throwing. I wash my hands in the throwing water bucket, dry off with a throwing towel. Then finish washing my hands in the sink, drying off on a “clean” towel next to the sink. When glazing, I wrap a bath towel around my waist. Because like @LeeU I cannot resist wiping my hands on my pants. Glazing seems to require much more hand wiping than anything else. When pulling handles, I wear a terry cloth wrist band to stop water dripping down to my elbow. I tried @Callie Beller Diesel‘s method but it didn’t help. For me, the water doesn’t drip down my arm during the pulling phase. It drips during the phase when I shape the handle and attach the bottom end. Because for that move I hold the mug up at eye level > arms now angled upward > water runs down arm rather than off the hands into bucket. All of my studio towels and wristbands get taken down to a neighborhood laundromat, rather than my home laundry machines. It’s one of those big ones that is open 24/7. I figure their drains can handle a lot more than my house can.
  8. GEP

    Why make functional ware?

    Eva Zeisel (Hungarian-American, not German)
  9. GEP

    Why make functional ware?

    A good response to this, if you are feeling cheeky enough and if the person is sufficiently deserving: “Haha! That joke is always funny.” This also works when someone makes a crack about the movie Ghost.
  10. GEP

    Why make functional ware?

    I disagree on this one point. Even if we set aside the aesthetic debate, many mid-range and high-fired stoneware and porcelain pots are more durable than mass produced ceramics. Of course every potter’s work falls somewhere different on the durability scale, but many of us are ahead of industry. “Your stuff really lasts. Even my kids can’t break it.” I hear this feedback a lot.
  11. GEP

    Why make functional ware?

    I just had this conversation with a customer this weekend. She has one handmade mug, and loves using it daily. Her husband cannot fathom why she spent $38 on a mug. His favorite mugs are the ones he stole from a restaurant, therefore they were free. He sees them a purely utilitarian. I told her that buying handmade pottery is definitely a subculture. Most people don't get it, but some people do. So the reason to make it is for the small subculture of people who value this sort of thing. I'm finding it hard to imagine that anyone involved in art making (eg the tilemaker) can't understand that different people have different values.
  12. In the photo of my hands, you can see in the lower right corner, the coffee grinder that my iPad was perched atop.
  13. GEP

    Glaze Bilsters...

    Yes, a too-thick glaze application can contribute to the problem. If gasses are escaping from the clay and glaze (which is normal), a too-thick glaze is producing more gasses, which need to penetrate out through a thicker glaze layer. Some of those bubbles don’t make it all the way out in time for the holes to heal over. This is just one possibility. Callie mentioned “boiling” earlier and I also think your blisters look like boiled glaze. This is more related to overfiring. Just like all things in ceramics, there are many factors that need to be put in balance. Just to emphasize, the larger problem with applying glazes too thick is the runnyness. Kiln shelves are expensive. If I were in your shoes, I would take Pres’s advice to make test tiles and fire this clay/glaze combo at varying temps, with varying thicknesses, with witness cones next to each tile. That’s the fastest way to test all the factors that need to be put in balance.
  14. GEP

    Glaze Bilsters...

    @Gokul You might simply be firing your kiln too hot. Running glazes and blisters are a common outcome of overfiring. Are you using witness cones to measure that you are actually firing to cone 6? If you already know you are hitting cone 6, you can try firing without the soak, or lowering target temperature. I refer to my glazes as “cone 6” glazes, but at one point I switched claybodies and started getting pinholes in one of my glazes. Through trial and error I solved the problem by changing my firing program to cone 5.75 instead of 6. Edit to add: I also think you have applied your glazes too thickly. This can also contribute to both running and blistering.
  15. Ok here are my hands. They are dirty this morning from yardwork, not pottery. Gnarly cuticles, bulging veins, and I’m always nursing some cuts and scrapes.
  16. Speaking of hands, has anyone else here ever had to be fingerprinted? I had to give fingerprints when I was hired to teach at a community center. The person doing it had a terrible time getting prints from my worn down fingertips. I have a potter friend who has a high security job. Her company is trying to install electronic fingerprint readers in their office, and she’s having a tough time using them. Just think of the crimes we potters could get away with.
  17. GEP

    The Act of Pugging

    My studio also generates a lot of fresh clay scraps from handbuilding. Just like you, those scraps go in a plastic bag, then straight into the pugmill again without slaking. If for some reason they were allowed to become leatherhard or drier, I would slake them. All of my wheel trimmings are slaked, spread out on plaster, then pugged. When I pug, it is usually a mix of slaked clay, handbuilding scraps, and new clay from the bag. Thank you for providing more info about the way clay is used in your studio, and that you have experienced yourself how clay can be rendered overly groggy. I would suggest the recycling process that was used in the center where I used to teach. We had a few large plastic trash cans where students put their clay trimmings, plus empty their throwing water bucket into, and all the splashpan juice. Splashpans and buckets were washed out in these trash cans until they were almost clean, then finished off in the sink. Same with tools and hands. Students would get their throwing water by dipping a bucket into these trash cans. Only when the water was too thick for throwing were they allowed to get fresh water from the sink. With this method, very little clay goes down the sink, and the clay composition stays complete. You alluded earlier that splashpan juice was not being reclaimed. It’s not hard to capture all of those goodies. Instituing behavioral change among a group of people might be hard, but it’s not impossible. I use a similar approach on a smaller scale at home. My throwing water comes from the sink, then used for days until it is too thick, then this water is used to slake the trimmings. I wash tools and hands in my thowing water bucket before finishing in the sink. I throw with little water so my splashpan does not accumulate liquid.
  18. GEP

    The Act of Pugging

    @glazenerd “short” clay and “non-plastic” clay are not always the same thing. If the clay is a nicely plastic commercial claybody before being recycled, it won’t turn into “non-plastic” clay in the normal recycling iterations that pottery studios do. Especially not in the way @preeta described, which is that 60% of the recycled clay is fresh clay trimmings from handbuilding. It is not being processed enough times to change its composition noticibly. But it can become “short” from a lack of moisture.
  19. I ordered sheets of it online. But I’m pretty sure it is commonly available at a lot of places. Just google for a supplier. Yes it looks like 1/4 inch thick.
  20. I vertical supports of the shelves in this photo are made out of corrugated plastic. The same material used to make yard signs. Known by the brand name Coroplast. Coroplast is thin and flat and weighs almost nothing. When folded into a tube (triangle-shaped tubes in my case) it can support hundreds of pounds. It can be cut with a utility knife and a straight edge, no special tools required. I built some small Coroplast pedestals too. My shelf supports and pedestal supports are covered in fabric, so they don’t look like plastic. Combine this with wood shelves, and the Coroplast disappears.
  21. GEP

    The Act of Pugging

    I don’t believe in putting dry pieces of clay in a pugmill or mixer, if that means the ratio of dry clay to liquid is unknown. When pugged clay is too short, the simplest answer is that it is missing moisture. If the liquid ratio is wrong to begin with, aging the clay can only do so much to improve it. I am a “slake everything” person too. Dry out the sludge to the consistency you want, then use the pugmill to homogenize. Drying out sludge on plaster doesn’t need to be a horizontal operation. It can be done vertically too. I made these plaster batts in 9x12 foil cake pans: My studio consumes about 3000 lbs of clay per year. Compare that to your studio’s consumption to decide if this operation can be scaled to your studio. I make these clay/plaster towers every two weeks or so. Also, although damp plaster will hold the clay in a ready state for maybe 8 hours, the clay needs to be removed sometime in that window. So ask yourself if the timing and oversight requirements will work in your studio too. If you cannot make the “slake everything” approach work, I would make the effort to figure out, through trial and error, a “formula” for the ratio of clay types that go into every mixer batch. i.e. For every pound of dry clay, add x.x. cups of wet clay (clumps and slip) and x.x cups of liquid. The fresh clay scraps generated by handbuilders can be added with no additional liquid. I would post this formula on the wall next to the pugmill. That’s how I would do it, but I am a stickler for measuring, and believe in doing things consistently as much as possible.
  22. This is my favorite and most important scheduling tool: a wall calendar that displays the entire year at a glance, and can be written on with a dry erase pen. I plan out about 2 months worth of days in advance, then stick to my plan as close as possible. It takes an emergency to make me ignore my plan. If I don’t stick to it, I will arrive at shows feeling underprepared, and I hate that! The shorthand you see (1a thru 1d, 2a thru 2d) refers to to-do lists that I keep in a notebook. Each to-do list produces about $1250 worth of pots. So when I apply for and get accepted into a show, before I commit to it I will make sure I have enough days to produce the necessary amount of inventory. If yes, then I will commit to the show and schedule the days of production. This way, I am always fully stocked. But I avoid overstocking myself which I consider wasted energy. As you can see, I give myself regular days off, usually two in a row but sometimes three. I need these days out of the studio to let my sore muscles recover. Often, one of those off days will be spent working, just not in the studio. This is when I get my computer stuff done (bookkeeping, bill paying, writing blog posts, writing email campaigns, making hang tags, photographing my work, website updates, etc.) So that means I get one day “off” but that’s enough. Today 6/26 which is a day off. Tomorrow I start another round of glazing. And then I reach the end of my currently scheduled days. I have a completely unscheduled week 7/1 thru 7/7. Weird feeling! I will probably schedule those days as “video days” because I don’t need more pots for the three shows coming up in July. When I get near the end of my July shows, I will plan out all the days until my three October shows. Then follow the plan.
  23. GEP

    cadmium red

    One of my favorite potters, Larry Allen, does some amazing work with intense red glazes on stoneware in oxidation. According to his website, the stoneware is fired to full maturity, then the red glaze is applied in a separate step and refired to earthenware temps. https://www.la-pottery.com/main.sc
  24. GEP

    Most used sieve size?

    I only use 80 mesh, but I have two of them. The full-size five-gallon bucket sieve, and a little one for making test batches.
  25. If I had to choose a “second place” on my list of most important busines tools: a photostand, good camera, and the know-how to use them. Most of the professional art world is closed to anyone without professional quality photos of their work, such as juried art festivals, exhibitions, and publishing, The gatekeepers need to evaluate so many people’s work, and photographs are the only way to do it. And any avenue without gatekeepers probably won’t lead you very far. It’s not as initimidating as it might sound. The only expense is a good camera. (No, I don’t mean the camera in your smart phone. These have come a long way but still don’t give you enough control over things like ISO, depth of field, and distortion,) Photostands can be built for very cheap. Studio photography, where the subject doesn’t move and the lighting is controlled, is the easiest form of photography. Potters are mechanical and scientific, these things are not over our heads. It’s a matter of finding the right training.

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