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Everything posted by Stephen

  1. 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.
  2. Thanks Min! Well I guess I should clarify, it will be a 2 car-garagio. In our price range I just couldn't find a house that didn't need anything AND land to build a studio. Zero house projects was the most important thing to us both so a garagio it is. I used to take care of an acre/ house and studio building in the NW so this will be a treat. Place even has landscaping with sprinkler system. Funny how your priorities change. As I age time seems to become more important and stuff less.
  3. I just wanted to post an update. I have been back the past couple of days poking through recent post, tossing an opinion here and there and I must say it feels like I am back at work and catching up on what everyone has been up to. Thank all of you so much for the support you showed me when I packed it in on on potting full time, it really did help a lot. I see I made this post at the end of May but My studio went into storage in April and I began scrambling to put my life back together. Everything has worked out fine. I am lucky that I am a programmer and landed a 100 hour monthly contract fairly quickly and they hired me full time at the end of August. Close on a new house in a couple of weeks and will have a new studio up and running by the end of December. Ya know I guess I am looking at my pottery business as having just been on a break. I am pretty much going to be picking up where I left off. I only stopped because I was literally out of money. That's been solved. Also my new gig is 8 hours a day M-F from home so no commute or down time. Literally hit the computer at 7:30 and off to the studio at 3:30-4. Plan to average 4-5 hours a day and take weekends off for shows or camping or whatever Life is good and very pumped and excited to get back to work. I would rather do it without the distraction of a job but that just didn't work out and this is the next best thing. The upside is I do enjoy programming so the day job doesn't suck either. Thanks again!
  4. I read somewhere, maybe here, "forget your family and friends, they will never see you as an artist". I think that is mostly spot on for self taught and at the same time I think self taught folks feel more defensive. I don't think anyone in my life space really takes me that seriously but then again I really never engage anyone about it either. My partner gets a lot of accolades and she deserves it because her work is excellent and she is a very 'talented' artist. I don't mean this badly but I don't really want opinions on my work at this point. I care if customers buy the work because that's the only real validation I can trust and the rest is really noise and confusing and I don't want to be confused. I know whats good and whats crap and I'm working on it. If the work is good then people who like and buy handmade pottery will buy it. The stuff they don't buy missed the mark. I think the 10k hour rule is mostly true as a benchmark in almost anything really. Talent may give it a jump start and lack of certain qualities will put a ceiling on how refined the work or activity will get. I was a pretty good tennis player after a few k hours in HS but I was not great. Who knows what another 6-7k hours would have meant? Didn't find out with tennis (shoulder surgery) but I will hit 10k with pottery. Been without a studio for 6 months and failed at a 2 year run at full time. Although I am back to part time, I did git a huge number of hours in, particularly at the end, so its all moving forward. New studio next month and really happy about that :-)
  5. Table Top Slab Roller

    I would recommend going with a table mounted one if you can add a couple hundred more to your budget, less hassle. Baileys has one for around $750 with frame, counter-tops and canvas. I have both, bought the small one to save money and space but it's a pain to clear space and put away and pull out. Because of handles, rollers and such you have to be careful where you put it and not stack anything on it. I missed just rolling out the slab and moving on with no fuss. New studio next month will be with the larger table mounted and I am excited to retire the tabletop.
  6. I can't imagine doing it on a regular basis unless I strictly sprayed and even then probably wouldn't bother. I see bisque as the step to get the pots ready to work with. Moving 50-60 pots around to get ready for and do a glaze run (often late at night pushing a load through) would just be too fussy if I was working with greenware and it would piss me off when I lost pieces and I am heavy handed enough that I would lose pieces all the time. I just like working with sturdy bisque ware.
  7. I like the article. I like to read things like this. It makes me spend a moment on self reflection and that's a good thing. ya know one thing I would toss into the discussion is that the nature of selling functional ware pottery for a living will, or at least can, certainly change the level of the work, often profoundly. Time is at such a premium for a full timer and more time consuming work may not sell in any real numbers and hours spent on something elaborate may not really be worth enough to a customer to offset the time. I don't know if its really fair to compare part timers and full timers for functional pottery because its such a different head. They may both have an eye to production and to artistic expression but its going to be a somewhat flipped, different mix and that's going to change the body of work. It is what it is.
  8. I would suggest staying away from putting cents in your handmade pottery pricing. I think the folks that buy your pottery are not responding to marketing jargon in the same way as manufactured items you might sell. I do add tax so the final price usually has some cents in it though.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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?
  13. 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?
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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 :-)
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Hey how about some of you guys who know who's who take a look at the youtube potters line up and throw out a few names of ones you've both heard of and respect their work. If one makes south 20 bucks an hour it is just really, really, hard for a LOT of people to have any money at all left at the end of a month just surviving. For these guys youtube really is it regardless of whether its the best way or not. If someone is just starting out they have no idea who too listen too. I'll start: I mentioned Simon Leach in another thread and I have watched so many of his videos. He and his brothers, father, mother and fairly famous grandfather have been in pottery forever and he has posted tons of great instructional videos. He is a professional potter making his living from pottery as both a studio potter and workshop instructor.
  24. Youtube Video Potters

    Now that's dirt poor :-)
  25. Youtube Video Potters

    I remember back in mid eighties my wife and I, having little money, in Houston would take $10 bucks, go to a free concert in the park with a picnic and then stop at a place called 2 pesos on the way home and have a few $1 margaritas. If ur broke u just figure it out. An old kiln, cheap used wheel, some clay and youtube and ur in business, like oldlady said (that always feels disrespectful ) everything else can be pieced together on the cheap.