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About Stephen

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  • Birthday 10/02/1960

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  1. Stephen

    Judge my pots - 3rd batch

    The only thing I would add is that if you want to eventually actually make money doing this, as you have indicated, building a $5 a pot market might not be a good thing. When your work improves and you want to start getting market value for your work, your one best option for getting some traction may well be a bad fit because her customers who like pottery are likely to balk suddenly seeing $30-$50 pots. I'd just toss, keep or otherwise get rid of them. We have let close call 2nd's build up and at a slow day market put a box out with everything $5 and they all disappear fast but these are pots that are really pretty close to being inventory but have a small defect that holds them off the shelve, never a heavy or badly formed pot. I think inventory control is what really keeps a relative new potter like me selling pots as I constantly walk around at shows and cull pots when its slow. I do this all along as well so really bad ones go into the trash right off, marginal ones after glazing and then when I am in my booth with my pots on display I can see what my customers see and make sure its all good. That final cut is the one I think gets it right because they have to be able to pass the look, hold and buy test in my mind. If someone is going to pay 2 or 3 times what they can buy the same pot for at a big box store it really needs to strike them as special. When I sell that pot to an excited person who is beaming while they hand me the dough is when I make the circle in pottery from ball of clay to wrapped in tissue paper in a bag on the way to someones home.
  2. Maybe a page about wood firing with those pieces listed. The idea is that they read about the process, history and maybe see some photo's of you loading or unloading the wood fire kiln you use and become intrigued and buy a pot or two.
  3. Stephen

    Judge my pots - 3rd batch

    I would suggest working on the weight/thickness and get it right before you keep moving on. Muscle memory will make it harder later. You mentioned "even after trimming" so it sounds like you are trying to correct that with trimming tools. I needle every bottom these days because I find it so critical and cutting in half will clue you in on both wall thickness as well as evenness of your pulls. Next time you trim to shape I would suggest putting a clock to it and see just how much time you are putting into that process. It also always seems to me that extensive trimming when I do it also changes a pot and not necessarily to the better. Just a thought.
  4. Stephen

    Centering 50lbs on a VL Whisper?

    I guess I just don't approach any of the limits of the Whisper VL model so I think it's a great wheel. I chose the VL whisper because of it being both highly rated AND quiet. I have a hearing problem so that was important to me. Some people on the other hand love the sound of the wheel when they throw. I threw with a cheap BOSS and Brent IE for a half a year as well and I thought they were fine as well. Ya know I only really chimed in because I've been there with making these decisions and outfitting a small studio and I think the best thing you can do is match the equipment to the need, not just the biggest or most expensive. A pro who moves through a ton of clay a month might need a large pug mill to handle scrap where a low volume potter like me does just fine with a 25lb Peter Pugger. The main take away from the approach is you will end up getting more bang for your buck. That might mean expanding your budget to include a nice slab roller with advanced features, a de-airing pug mill/mixer and/or recirculating sink. Certainly if you have the bucks and just go outfit your studio with the most expensive everything you will have a great studio but if dollars are important then you might not want to pay for features and deeps specs that are not going to be taken advantage of and as a result have to forgo something else that you would use.
  5. Stephen

    1st pots in 30 years

    yeah, I spent my first 6 months throwing just cutting pots in half. One thing I would mention is to consider resisting trimming to shape. Try to throw to shape and weight. Took me forever to really get that. I took the plunge a few years ago and failed in less than a year and went back to the day job but one thing I really got from the experience was that to run a pottery business you needed to have a good production routine. I got to where my pots just needed a moment or two of clean-up. Beyond that I felt like I was just trying to correct throwing errors and save a bad pot. The need to push a couple of kiln loads through a week continuously for a while really helped me get better at stuff like that. Not enough to make a living though have fun!
  6. Stephen

    Using Small "Test" Kilns as Only Kiln

    I of course defer to your knowledge on the subject and it makes sense to go larger than you need to be able to have them wear longer before replacing. My little one is in storage until the end of the month but will certainly check the plate when I get it here. I guess you just have to do the math and make a decision. I know I figure about 150 or so firings for a set of elements and for the little ones I think a set runs around a hundred so that's about 60 cents a firing for element replacement and if its cut by half firing a cone 6 to cone 6 then that bumps to a buck twenty. I always fire to 5 with a 20 minute hold. So there is that. Hope mines a 10 like I think it is
  7. Stephen

    Using Small "Test" Kilns as Only Kiln

    Ya know not sure why they changed the specs. Mine fires to 10 although I never go past 6 either. Never seriously considered firing an electric to 10 for all the reasons Neil stated. cone 6 seems to be the sweet spot for oxidation and 10-12 for reduction. Personally I would give the clay on-hand a second thought when deciding on a kiln. Just toss or use for something else. You might be able to donate it to a center. Neil, I am curious if the same rules apply on a small 1cf kiln and struggling to hit max 6. I would think the max on these is probably due to the 120V but hitting 6 seems easy and fast in my little one. Not sure about wear because as a glaze test kiln it gets used so seldom but clicks through the same program as its big brother with no issues when I do use it. Since that little model 12 was rated cone 10 when I bought is a while back now I am willing to bet they changed that specs but likely not the kiln.
  8. Stephen

    1st pots in 30 years

    Welcome to the board and congrads on your new work! Hey 10,000 hours is not the mark, 1-10,000 is. just take it an hour at a time. Look at it this way if you want to go pro you will need about $10,000 in inventory to start turning over and your pay check comes from the selling part. I would suggest when you have a couple hundred good/great pots start doing a show here and there, they don't go bad so just toss the bad ones and accumulate the good ones.
  9. Stephen

    Using Small "Test" Kilns as Only Kiln

    I would suggest giving Paragon a call, they built it and should be able to give you some guidance. I was instructed by Seattle pottery to swap out the wall receptacle with the one they provided. Ran it for 5-6 years with no issues in my garage. It may well have been a 20 amp breaker though. Sold the house and can't check. While very particular about such things on the larger stuff I just bought it on a lark at SPS while buying glaze materials and just followed their instructions of swapping out the plug and run it dedicated. It was such a small kiln that seemed fine so admittedly I did not check wire gauge and such. Mines got an electronic controller to match its big brother, a 9 cf oval (also SPS). http://www.seattlepotterysupply.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=sps_ecat&Category_Code=1IS I've got the 12x13 interior one and it is small for things like bowls, mugs and such. With both shelves and 5" mugs I think you could fire 6 mugs and without the 2nd shelf fire 3-4 large and tall ones (no stilt for holding up shelf). Bowls, same deal one larger one and maybe 6 small ones as they can be 2 shelves. With the electronic controller it fires the same as the big one in my opinion. I use it to test glazes and my partner has used it for some small custom orders from time to time when firing out of sync with the two larger kilns. I was told it runs a couple bucks a load to fire. Since its about $10 (all northwest numbers) for the large one it is definitely more per pot but like you said, its your only option and still pretty cheap. I personally would not go as small as that Caldera. That is just too tiny. The other one (AF3C) is closer to a 1cf and would stop there as far as going down in size unless you truly only want to ever fire very small items like beads. Besides the 1cf (12x12) is plenty small. I would recommend you measure out the dimensions on some paper or cardboard, account for 3 stilts holding up a shelf and 1/2" for shelf and at least 1/2" for top space from lid and 1" for floor shelf and space (you don't fire on the brick bottom). Now put together a load on those shelves around marked off stilts with a 1/4" gap between each pot and 1/2" from edge using bowls, mugs and such. That's your load and it will take really the bulk of 24 hours to fill, fire and cool that load 2x's (bisque and glaze). If you have a dryer plug you might also consider this: http://www.bigceramicstore.com/bigceramicstore-com-biggest-little-kiln-3-key-digital-controller.html Have fun!
  10. Stephen

    If one of your students....

    well as a licensed therapist she has at least read about setting boundaries so she shouldn't have trouble with the concept. I've actually always found smart people with overly aggressive personalities actually respond pretty well when faced with boundaries being set. They often test the limits a bit after you set them but then learn to stay in the center lane if they want to continue. I think one thing to consider is that this person may well really want to be a part of what you have put together and faced with a threat of getting tossed may well choose to tone it down.
  11. Stephen

    Shopping for My First Kiln

    I rented a trencher and did about 100' in an 'L' shape when I built our studio and we had a bunch of small boulders that made the work a little dicey. I think the trencher ran about $150 for half a day. Finished it off with a shovel. Also hung the outlets and breaker box and then had my electrician who did as Mark mentioned and just laid the pipe and inspected the rest of the job and got it ready for inspection. Not suggesting you do all of this but it is doable and is not rocket science. I bought every single thing including the trench pipe at Lowes. I had bids in the five figures to wire my 300' studio and they were nuts, just plain nuts. My guy after a lot of looking charges $140 for first hour and $80 an hour after. We always talked about what I could do to reduce his time and he had a great, profitable business. Very honest and honorable guy. I keep trying to resist venting here and I will admit I have a deep seated bad feeling about many 'professionals' that do work for home owners. I think it is absolutely disgraceful that they bid half day jobs at thousands of dollars. I don't care how they try to justify it its absurd and sleazy. I certainly understand overhead and the cost of running a business but that does not mean that they should be getting several hundred an hour per person. I know I am venting but its ridiculous. It sounds like you are doing your homework and I get at the end of the day you just want your kiln up and running. Good luck with it all!
  12. Stephen

    Shopping for My First Kiln

    Well it sounds like your on it and will get the best deal you can. Maybe on of those $500 sheds at the big box hardware store closer to the house might be a thought?
  13. Stephen

    Shopping for My First Kiln

    mind my asking what your estimates came too?
  14. Now I agree with with Mark & Marcia Now I do very much believe that a functional potter can certainly be an artist but I just think the intent needs to be there for that distinction in ones work and while any mug may be a work of art every mug is not.
  15. Stephen

    Super New and waiting for a kiln

    yeah seems unlikely that its busted, call Arnold to confirm before you box and send back. Clay-king is just the distributor, they may or may not be able to troubleshoot your problem but Paragon will.

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