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Stephen

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Stephen last won the day on March 24 2015

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About Stephen

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  • Birthday 10/02/1960

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  1. Thank you all so much for all the support and kind words. I ran out of likes for the day but it was very nice of you all to take a minute and wish me well. While I am taking a break out of necessity I will be right back at it soon and one day may strike out again. In the meantime the pressure being off trying to produce large numbers pots every day will be a good thing for my work in the long run. Have scores of projects there never seemed to be enough time for. Going to just relax and try to get a few hours a day of meaningful work and enjoy the work itself again.
  2. I will say this, I didn't quit, I failed. With the losses mounting I just doubled down and worked harder until I was broke and scrambling to save my credit and eat. I stopped because there was simply no choice and literally no way to continue.
  3. Just thought i would post this to give advice to someone thinking of doing pottery full time at regional/local shows, don't do it lightly. After a few dozen weekend shows and tons of one day shows I just don't see it as viable doing run of the mill arts & craft shows and festivals to make much more than supplemental income. Marks approach of spreading a wide 1000 mile net and building up a slate of producing shows and growing customer base over years and years and Mae's approach of only working high end juried shows obviously works for them but first you have to be the potters they are and both of those approaches take time and if you plunge in full time like I did, time is not something you have. Time is in years and you have to pay bills in between. It's so easy to say I will tough it out but when the pantry gets bare that approach is just wishful thinking. Was it my pottery, maybe, but ya know at every show I saw every other potter, mostly with perfectly solid work probably not doing much better than me and often less. The south is brutal but even in the NW, where it was often twice the revenue, it was not a living, at least not a decent one. If you want to do this my advice is keep the day job until you have a solid 8-10 shows that you are doing that gross 5 grand. Plenty of people here claim that this is a perfectly doable number with good pottery, at good shows. I never saw anywhere near that or ever saw another pottery coming anywhere close to that so if you think it will happen for you, prove that it will by finding those shows before leaving your paycheck behind. Consignment? Wholesale? same advice, prove it first. I spent a number of years part time and i thought If i was doing it full time I could cycle through shows quickly and find the right ones but the reality of road expenses and the reality that most local shows are not going to do more than add a meager paycheck puts you in a no win situation. Yes if that road show that cost $1500 to go do and grosses 5-6k it works but if you go do a half dozen of these and drop $9000 and the gross is less, and its very likely it will be for most, then after a couple of months of work you have less than you started with, maybe much less. Rinse and repeat and you are just digging a hole deeper and deeper. If you do find a couple of 5k shows they meaningless on making a living because of the piled up losses. I never found any so I just lost my a$$, In short listen to Mea, Mark and others and build up the pottery revenue BEFORE quitting your job.
  4. one thing I will add is that we have a small 25# peter pugger and use 100% porcelain. It is not stainless and yes it has pitted since I've left clay in between uses but haven't seen any problems from that. All you really need to do to avoid pitting is clean it out between uses. That might sound like a huge hassle but its not really that big of deal, After a few cleanings it becomes very predictable and easy, couple of bolts and wiping down. I doubt it takes me more than 15 minutes to clean it out after use when I'm in a hurry. It doesn't pit from using porcelain, it pits from porcelain sitting in it all the time. I assume you do reclaim in batches and could easily do coloring the same way, We only paid 3800 new but that was 6-7 years ago now. I second the used route. I see 1000-1500 pugmills come up regularly on facebook marketplace on potters attic and some look to be in great shape.
  5. Skutt 818 With Extension Ring

    Hi Niel, would a 6-50 installed last year likely be able to handle that? Its a dedicated receptacle right by breaker box on a 50 amp breaker and I have been running a skutt 1027 on it.
  6. In my quest to find a kiln I came across a 20 year old skutt 818 with an extension ring. The spec call for a 6-50 plug but it seems to have a 10-50 plug on it? can I change this back to a 6-50? Is this possibly an old dryer plug added later? could I possibly just plug it into a 6-50 adapter and use in my 6-50 receptacle?
  7. Brick Repair

    well decided against that kiln but thanks for the input. Good deal but too much uncertainty on rest of kiln as I can only inspect pictures and suspect it was dropped.
  8. Last summer in an attempt to get some exposure and cash moving we did a couple of dozen farmers markets in the northwest. These were large markets like you mentioned with large populations in the surrounding area. depends on what you think is worth it. We started out in June when most markets open in this part of the country doing 3 markets a week, Thursday, sat and sun around our regular show schedule. all ran for 5 hours and it took about an hour and a half on each end to setup and breakdown. So that 2 people for 8 hours. After a month we dropped the Thursday market as it rarely topped $200 and the other two settled in between $250-$350. We brought about $3000 in inventory to each and had full booth setup with three display racks and a table. Berry bowls were hard to keep stocked and mugs and spoon rest were easily half the sales, the bigger the better. I do believe if we did them this year we could work them up to $400-500 through continued building of repeat customers and getting better and better at know what sells. Not sure if those numbers are worth it to you or not.obviously if you count the labor for us to go do it they are a bust but its cash between shows, exposure and they are fun. The customers you do have, at least where we were, are super nice, Make sure you have something like square set up as that's important so that folks with just a few bucks for vegies and flowers can pop a few mugs on their card. We gained some regular customers in the process and also got some orders here and there. Definitely bring a lot of low priced under $30 stuff but we did sell some more expensive pots here and there. Oh and yeah $22 mugs were a hard sell. We dropped price to $18 at one point and they started moving. Hand Painted mugs however sold just fine for $28. Not sure much higher would have worked but we don't look for volume on those anyway.
  9. Brick Repair

    looking at adding a small skutt 818 and it has a broken element and a row of 6 cracked and/or missing bricks on bottom row of bottom ring. I have never replaced bricks before. They are $12 a piece (and it needs 6 of them) and the element is $38 at kilnparts.com. Was going to youtube and surf for instructions. Any advice on this repair? Anyone dealt with kilnparts.com? good price on bricks?
  10. Hi LeeU why the alarm over food safe to the point of not making it? I haven't seen the cautions you mention. I think if pottery has a proper glaze fit and fired med/high cone temps it is perfectly safe to eat off of.
  11. Ya know I think mugs and corresponding prices have to be separated into two very distinct pots. A labor intensive mug with hand carving and/or hand painted can absolutely fetch $30-$50 even at the small shows I do. Its a beautiful pot that folks that enjoy pottery and coffee can use, appreciate and admire every day. BUT a nice dipped large mug I just don't see it in any numbers. I need to move dozens, as mugs are my main thing and any time I put a price out of the teens sells plummet, People admire and compliment and you can often see them trying to justify as they pick up and hold and admire. $20+ is just a lot for the average person to justify for a coffee mug. At $15 my tri-dipped are just fine labor wise as I have about 20-25 minutes in a mug these days. I should clarify I do pedestrian shows with booth fees mostly under $200 and are not high end art shows. I am aslo in the south not on the east coast. I have settled in at $15 for large mugs and they sell in much better numbers and I average 2.5 mugs production an hour which is prob $25 an hour after show and other expenses deducted. I have just made this determination starting this weekend and I think I will stay there. I have tried $24 down to $18 and mixed in discounts for multiples and the flat $15 seems to work.
  12. I am working in porcelain so will throw a couple of test platters and such and give the fast fire a try and report back as soon as I have the open kiln time to try it, In the meantime I will take the advice of keeping it to mugs and small stuff for fast fire. I do a lot of mugs so the fast fire will help a lot with keeping things moving. My real bottleneck is having one small 6.5 cf kiln but this helps.
  13. yeah I would have been bummed if the whole load had been ruined but knew going in that it might not work. I was actually just hoping half would make it through. Its a new style and really wanted to test at this market. Very surprised they all made it. Taking them was actually more important to me than the pots themselves.
  14. Had an out of town show this weekend and was faced with a last load I absolutely wanted to bring. The way it all worked out with drive time the kiln had to be unloaded and packed by 10am. The only way I could accomplish this was to use fast firing setting on my skutt 1027. Medium fire takes 8.5 hours and then 13 hours to cool (thanks to 3" bricks) below 350 to prop lid and 250 to open lid. I usually let cool to under 200 to prop and 150 to open lid and unload BUT I was pushing everything as I even candled 40 same day handled leather hard mugs for bisque load for 10 hours to get it to this point. Usually rack under plastic for a day after handling then dry for one even when rushing. So to re-cap, 50 mugs, 40 of them handled just as dry enough to work with with and not warp from handling, candled at leather hard (barely) and then cone 5 fast fired glazed with 20 minute hold in 4.5 hours and lid propped at 350, lid opened at 250 and unloaded at 190ish. I didn't lose one mug. No cracks or glaze defects, none. I used to have a 1027 for bisque and a 9cf oval for glazing and could move stuff through working in tandem bisque/glaze. Now with this one small 6.5 kiln there just isn't enough hours in a day to push loads through and add to that the 3" bricks adding hours to cooling it can take almost three days to push a load through. So I'm so tempted to start relying on fast fire glaze and propping at 350 on a regular basis. Cuts 6-7 hours from the process. Was I just lucky or are people just being overly cautious with the more moderate and best practices approach. I've surfed and opinions seem all over the board and I have seen pictures of what is supposed to be evidence but I am wondering if the defects are really more attributable to other issues like glaze fit and the cautious approach just makes those issues less severe. I know I saw the same warnings on candling yet I have not had any issues with doing that either and have now moved 100s through candling 8-10 hours of sometimes almost wet pots without any issues. I should mention I can't afford a 2nd kiln right now and just paid 3 grand for this one so can't upgrade. Now I wish I had bought 2 used ones but can't undo that decision :-)
  15. I am just starting to load my shop mostly with the intention of it being a way for existing customers to add to what they have already bought in person. My mugs follow 4 distinct designs and small, med & large (24 oz range) and 5 glaze combos so if you have bought one you kind of know what you're getting. That said while I have been stocking my set line, my one offs have pretty much so out. Will be interesting to see if one offs sell well online. To answer original question I'm a $15-$20 mug guy but mostly use my own that have slight flaws.
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