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About Stephen

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  • Birthday 10/02/1960

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  1. Stephen

    Help to identify

    It is so hard to get folks to understand that kilns are not sturdy construction type equipment that you can sit boxes on top of and in etc. I see them listed for sale all the time with all kinds of crap in and on top. Such a shame to see good kilns messed up for no reason. Hopefully the this one didn't get damaged. I hate to even look at mine too hard.
  2. Stephen

    Employees vs Productivity

    Ya know you're both right I shouldn't have said by definition but rather friends have to be extra careful not to let their friendship interfere with production if they work side by side.
  3. Stephen

    Employees vs Productivity

    Ya know one thing I did that really changed things with a group of employees was a daily production meeting. We had office and field techs and it was a way to bring everyone together. Do it first thing and it's gets the day started off right with very specific goals. The only way this will work of course is being able to keep the meeting moving and not let it turn into a bull session and you, or someone, being able to project manage afterward. Too much independence can certainly produce the 80/20 rule and too strict over site will run folks off. Having just two employees and having managed large groups in the past may be making the current situation harder for you. With a small group its hard to not develop closer friendships and a group of friends just by definition hurts raw productivity because interaction is just going to get in the way throughout the day.
  4. Well I am not going to say goodbye because you are not leaving the board, just taking a long deserved break from your volunteer work on our behalf. I will however say "That you!" You have always been a great moderator and I can't heap enough praise on you and the other folks who give their valuable time to running this community. I have been spoiled by this community access over the last 5-6 years and I simply cannot imagine working in pottery without all the wonderful, selfless people here offering me advice and input on anything clay. Thanks!
  5. You didn't mention your budget. That will make a big difference in what you do. I'll let someone else familiar with the cost of installing gas answer that, but I do think what you said above would be (in my world) an expensive setup, I'm thinking you could approach 20k with a new front load gas and install. I have seen used front loads at SPS in Seattle for 4-5k and if installing gas is a few grand, assuming you don't already have it to your house, then you would be under 10k. If you have the dough for a new set-up these guys might be a place to start your research: Gas kiln builders
  6. Stephen

    Advice on kiln purchase

    sure, glad to offer input, I don't know about easier. Big or little is about the same. really you just park it and don't sit stuff on it and any of these will last for years. The biggest problem with kilns in garages is really other people. Kilns look solid but the are not and its really hard to get that point across to people. They are often just three rings of wrapped soft-brick and a soft brick top. People that don't get it will try to scoot them over (they don't scoot) and constantly slap stuff on top of them (they chip and crack easy). You get about a 100-150 combined bisque & glaze firings from a set of elements and a little set might be a $100-$200 to replace and a larger one $300-$400. Saving space is a definite yes. But do you want to be restricted to 2-3 small pottery pieces every time you fire. Household kilns are small. In another thread I was advocating this when someone wanted to buy one but I have since really looked at my 1cf kiln and thought about if I wanted this to be my only kiln (I bought it to test glazes I mix) and the answer really is no. I have concluded that others are right, little household elect kilns work well for some things but I wouldn't have lasted very long before buying another one if I had had to start with it..
  7. Stephen

    Advice on kiln purchase

    I think the biggest little kiln was something the company in the link had Paragon outfit for them. Basically it is a smallish medium kiln that they had outfitted with a plug that goes into a standard 30amp dryer outlet with a longer cord to reach past the dryer. I read debate on this board whether a dryer outlet is rated for such a sustained load but these guys have been selling it for many years and Paragon is one of the main kiln brands so my guess is it's fine. If that kiln is appealing to you then you might contact them and see if they ship to Canada. At just shy of 3cf it might be a good hobby size. Electric kilns, even bigger ones, don't cost but a few bucks to fire. Think $8-$9 for bigger ones and $3-$4 for smaller. One plus to a smallish medium kiln is you can fire more often. As a hobbyist it might take a long time to fill a 7-8cf kiln. Who wants to wait weeks or even months to see their work. Our 7cf Skutt 1027 holds about 50 pots and the 9cf oval one holds probably 75ish. Less if there are some large pieces in there but those numbers seem to be the average. The real small ones that run on household outlets are really small, usually less than a foot tall and wide, so you are going to be firing small loads of small stuff. A few mugs or couple of small bowls or really little stuff like beads and jewelry. Ya know the thing is electrical is just an extra expense of having a medium or large kiln. I just paid $1200 to have outlets put in for a small one and 2 larger ones. I needed a sub-panel and did it on flat bid which was a mistake because they double the hours to account for any problems. I strongly recommend being stubborn and getting an electrician that will do it by the hour. Mine took exactly 3 hours and with equipment should have been more like $600. A single outlet close to your panel should only take a couple hours or less. Hope that helps a bit. One thing you can do is think about what you are going to be firing and then go look at kilns and get the firing chamber dimensions. If its dinnerware, get some out of your cabinet or your past work and arrange it (remember the post, shelves and gaps around pottery, top and sides. Doing this will give you an ideal of what you need. Good luck!
  8. Stephen

    Overfired bisque

    did a search and found this link with some more suggestions, good luck! http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/17253-over-fired-bisque-will-glaze-stick-now/
  9. Stephen

    Overfired bisque

    that sucks, heat them up to 150-200 and try to get glaze to stick. Haven't heard about the hair spray routine.
  10. man I wish I knew what you guys were talking about, sigh. Off to do some surfing.
  11. Stephen

    evaporative cooler/AC in garage

    Thanks Denice! Yeah no basement. Just sitting here feeling guilty because we can't muster up the motivation to get out there and work today, over a 100 and just awful. whatever I come up with it needs to happen soon, wasting good weekend studio time.
  12. Stephen

    Advice on kiln purchase

    Ya know it sounds like you will just have to decide if a small kiln that runs on your existing electrical set-up will do it for you. With the budget you mentioned you can come up with a small kiln that will work and if you add a 220/240 (or whatever the UK equivalent is) outlet you can probably find a good used medium kiln as well. If you start with a small one you will still have a blast and just fire more often and stick to smaller stuff. When you out grow it you can invest in the electrical and get a bigger one. Either way you will have a home setup and can start firing your own work. I have a small one as a test kiln and find it useful enough that I paid an electrician extra to add a plug for it when he was setting up the other two so maybe you will keep the small one down the road as well. Have fun and don't fret too much about it, there's no really bad choice. Fun purchase!
  13. Stephen

    evaporative cooler/AC in garage

    well extending ac into the studio is out, research shows its a bad idea and against code.
  14. Stephen

    evaporative cooler/AC in garage

    Yeah I think the cooler is out. Apparently most folks around here use them on their patios to make them more bearable but in a garage they call them just overprices fans. My brother-in law in Dallas just extended an AC/duct into his garage and it cools any time the house AC comes on. I read that was a bad idea because it would pressurize the house and draw air from walls and vents. Not sure if that's correct and he had no ill effects that has been apparent. So I am thinking about just doing this and also run the 2 x10,000 BTU portables. That will likely cost me a hundred or so to run the AC's a month and increase my regular bill as well, say by $50 (my current elect is about $100). It will start cooling off around here in Sept. That will get me through the summer with hopefully at least a somewhat comfortable (read not sweating) studio and then I can pop for a good ductless mini-split AC system if it looks like the garage studio is going to be more permanent. From what I am reading that is the real solution. They do have DIY install models of these systems but you have to find an HVAC company bring it up and that apparently is not easy or necessarily cheap.
  15. When i was trying to make a living making pots, my studio time was so monopolized with getting ready for the next show, calculating how to push loads through to boxes with the functional items that sold (read a lot of mugs, bowls, cups spoon rest etc.) that pottery started feeling more routine. To counter this I was starting to try and make some time each day to work on a few art pieces. For me that was some vases and such but I had other more elaborate pieces in mind. True my vases didn't sell at the same rate as mugs but they were exciting to work on and they did round out my booth when I bought fresh flowers on the way to the show and they added something to my day.

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