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Stephen

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Everything posted by Stephen

  1. Ideal studio setup

    In reference to the kiln location, I built a studio that was similar in size as a companion to the garage being the kiln/glazing area and when we added a 2nd kiln for bisque so that we could move loads through quicker we added it to the studio in an end spot that was planned when I built the studio. The building was built finished out like a house and as such was really tight. When that kiln was fired the room (with 4 windows and french double doors open still bathed the room in heat. This meant anything drying or being handbuilt had to be moved or covered really well. Got to be kind of a pain. If I had it to do over again I would add a small kiln shed next to the studio with a deck connecting so there would be no stairs. I put a 6' deck that ran the length of the studio so it served as a great drying/hanging out area in the spring/summer. By putting a kiln shed on one end it would have eliminated the issue and given us back that end area. A room works but takes space away and the kiln building can be really rough and unfinished. Had these plans in the works but sold the house, back to a garagio and very jealous of your new studio Have fun!
  2. Programmer, tried to go full time pottery for a couple of years and ran out of money so back to part time pottery and full time programming, Not a bad life though and now that I scratched the itch have a better understanding of the snail pace pottery should probably go for me.
  3. Peter Pugger VPM 20SS

    I guess but I would think it would just be a case of matching it to your needs. The whole line-up is pretty much the same and the 9 seems to built extremely well to me. Is the 20 supposed to be a better machine or just bigger? I am not particularly recommending one over the other and mainly chimed in because I have never had to fuss with my 9 at all so I wanted to let the OP know that whoever was having that issue was not experiencing something that is inherently wrong with the 9, at least not in my experience, I Just went to their site and they seem to be of similar quality. For what little reclaim I have the 9 is more than enough so just not sure why I would want to spend $500 more for the extra 20lbs capacity and a bigger machine to deal with unless the 20 is better. They didn't have the 7 back when I bought mine but likely would have gotten it if they did and it also would have been just fine and what I would recommend to any part timer. It is not hard to load whatever amount of soft reclaim and mix for 10-15 minutes and pug out the logs. Same amount of clay still has to be transferred, mixed and pugged so the time savings is a little marginal and having to stop, mix and pug a few extra times when processing a few months of reclaim is just no big deal. I kind of enjoy it once in the groove. BUT I am not production or anywhere near that at this point, just a part timer with maybe a 5 gallon bucket every month or so to pug. I love the pugger though and I am sure if the OP gets either one of them he will two. Actually I bet he will be happy with any de-airing mixer/pugger he buys. ...as far as re-sale, selling me pugger is not something I would ever, ever do. Had to go without for a bit last year and just threw the reclaim away. Wedging reclaim is just not worth it to me.
  4. Have you considered a throwing shed in back yard? They are pretty cheap and if you insulate it an electric heater will probably be fine. Maybe compare the price of getting garage where you want it to adding a shed.
  5. Peter Pugger VPM 20SS

    Just a word in defense of the VM9, I have had one for I guess 6-7 years now and have never experienced any problems at all and have never had to run anything through more than once or put anything on a board. I don't mix dry and wet though because early on I did notice an occasional hard piece or two in the clay if I threw with it right away. If I let the logs sit for a week or so though that problem went away as the moisture evened out. Never had to mess with anything. I have put dry in and some water and let it sit for a day and it pugs just fine but no you can't just fill it with dry and run it through for good results. I do also make sure I mix it until it feels right to de-air and pug. Maybe that's the issue with the folks that are having problems. I would guess that I mix maybe 10-15 minutes to get to that point but I go 5 minutes and then check and do again if needed. Used it to pug clay made from scratch for a half a year. Mixed that in a 50lb bluebird mixer and pugged in two loads, again with no issues. As for size, I think it depends on who you are and what ya need. It pugs the better part of a 5 gallon bucket of reclaim into 5-6 5ish pound logs and takes a half hour or so. I don't have that much reclaim these days but even when I did it was plenty. But I am not a full timer like Mark and don't have his needs. I just throw reclaim into a lidded bucket (often toss in bone dry pieces ) and when those build up spend a half day pugging and putting into used clay bags. No s-crack problems or throwing issues with the resulting logs. Anyway I would highly recommend the VM9 if your needs are moderate.
  6. Shopping for My First Kiln

    Ya know I guess my advice on the small kiln was off target as I did not know all that Neil said. I just bought the small test kiln for glaze testing and brought home and swapped out the wall socket per their instructions on a dedicated 110 in garage and started using it. I think your choice is perfect based on all you have said and the cone 10 rating means you can fire cone 6 on a regular basis straight up instead of with heat work. I will toss one more thing out on elect. I was installing a 50 amp oval kiln in garage right next to the breaker box and I got some absurd bids for dedicated plug. I ended up paying a couple hundred bucks but I kid you not, I had several electricians give me a really high multi thousand bids to do this and several at 7-800. I knew from past experience that they were all overcharging but they have a line of BS that sounds convincing. I just kept calling around until I found someone fair and honest (and licensed & bonded ) Have fun and don't fret too much about this part.
  7. Shopping for My First Kiln

    Ya know I went through this last year when I was suddenly on my own and needed a kiln, cheap. Looked at a bunch of used ones and just came to the same conclusion as the original poster, buying a new kiln just seemed cheaper and less hassle in the long run. If the kiln was fairly new with an electronic controller folks wanted within 5-600 of buying one new and old decent brick ones were 4-500 and once I added elements and a few other things I was half the cost of new and I had a 40 year kiln. Would'nt take much to end up having $1500 in a big ol 'ancient' kiln. I think old kilns are for folks that bought them new and have bragging rights at how long they have lasted. Not that it can't work out but it can also go to crap in a hurry and after x amount of dollars in you have no choice but to keep spending. I'm a little confused on the not being able to run the small kiln on house hold current. My sister in-law was renting and she wore out a little one like the OP is looking at on house hold plugs. I know she didn't hire an electrician so maybe she found a 30 amp already in the box. My test kiln is about the same size but made by Seattle pottery and I had a garage plug that was just fine and I did not have to have an electrician out. Mine is actually a cone 10. It needed a different wall socket that I just swapped out myself from the one there with a screw driver in five minutes. Seattle pottery has a one page printout and the wall socket inside the kiln. I paid about $800 for the kiln 5 years ago for glaze testing. Anyway I certainly see a small kiln as useful for a hobbyist for a number of reasons one of which is you can fire it a lot and progress to a larger kiln later. If you take a long time to fill a larger kiln up you end up seeing your work weeks or even months after you first made it. A small one you can fire every few days if you want for a few bucks or less.
  8. I use electronic controllers on our kilns, so if I had to get cone 6 in a cone 6 kiln I would go for 4 or 5 (which ever is achievable with current elements) and then do the last cone + with heat work. Can you do that with a sitter by loading a cone pack you can watch with 4/5/6 and level off at 4 full bend and 5 bending then hold temp until 6 bends?
  9. Trimming Issues

    I get what you are saying and agree BUT isn't it kind of like a calculator for math tests in college. They now let you use one because presumably you would always be able to in the real world But of course it could be embarrassing if you are forced to demo trimming sometime without one available.
  10. Selling in Galleries

    and don't forget to pitch doing custom mugs for their coffee shop. You can have their logo made into a stamp for a nice badge and if they go for it you get a huge order to start and then a steady income stream.
  11. If one of your students....

    ya know I of course agree with everyone that her behavior was awful and the way you handled both skilled and smooth. I second Pres suggestion of adding way off samples to your other samples. Folks that just walk in cold don't realize that it's not like painting where the colors match up to samples. In a sequential class a lecture on glazes would cover this but in an ongoing class where there is no 'glaze class' they have no idea that when they pick out a nice blue from your samples that it might turn into a different shade or even a different color. Maybe even have a couple of printouts talking about the subject from the net to hand them so they can take it home. In this way the very likely possibility of differences between the samples and the finished piece is something they expect from the beginning as part of the process and the shock and disbelief of a pretty blue coming out brownish is not there and her tacky reaction would likely not have happened. The person, if not suffering from a mental issue, is likely just somewhat inept at expressing anger and projects. We know she has at least one friend so maybe there's hope. You sound just classy and level headed enough to handle her. Wonder how she's going to handle all the other fun surprises pottery has to offer.
  12. There's a useful download called Instant Eyedropper, been around for ever and is free. Just pin to your taskbar and you can just drag your mouse around and get the hex code. Works on any part of the screen including pictures. Great fro matching up colors. http://instant-eyedropper.com/
  13. ya know if pottery is your hobby for enjoyment then this sounds like it's ruining it for you. I would second the small test kiln idea if that will get ya going sooner and out of this terrible situation. Although we barely use our little 1 cf one it would be great for firing a few pieces. I could see 4-5 good size mugs, large bowl or 2-3 small ones, vases etc. Just not many at a time and often just one of something larger. As a hobby though that might be just fine and only cost a buck or two to fire and you can pretty much put it anywhere. My sister in law used one for her first year of glass firing and had it on a little cart with a metal sheet on top sitting is spare bedroom. Wore that little sucker out before she went large.
  14. Partner and I both have the Shimpo VL whispers and love them and I would have to say the low noise is mostly what sets them apart to me. She's had hers for over 10 years and I have had mine for 5 or 6 I guess. Also had a Brent which was fine but loud and started out with an inexpensive Clay Boss for 5-6 months which was also just fine. I would highly recommend them. Unless I missed it I didn't see anything on budget. New VL's, Brents and the like are twice as much as say a new Clay Boss and really the Clay Boss is just fine and might leave you room for other things you will likely want to add to your home studio. Just a thought.
  15. Lots of great advice, one thing I would toss in is make sure the top of your cup is level. It could just be the camera angle but it looks a little off. That would likely mean your not pulling up evenly with full rotations or perhaps trying to shape at the end with partial pulls. Of course if that's intentional then just ignore me :-)
  16. Dragons think pop up shows are good!

    ahh, I did read the article and came to the conclusion that the show was being done in an area and although scheduled and ongoing for that city it did lack a specific show location. Guess I read it wrong. The Seattle pop-ups I referenced were this way in that they are organized and scheduled every year in advance with jury pools etc but the location shifts around the city and they organize 5 or 6 shows each year.
  17. Dragons think pop up shows are good!

    Hi Callie what kind of popup show do you do? Would love to hear about the setup and results? We considered a couple in Seattle but it just didn't seem right for pottery as there literally is none of the back support you get from a planned show. Literally it was just taking over a busy street corner for an afternoon and counting on just busy downtown foot traffic to provide the revenue. If I could roll in with a couple of boxes and a table maybe, but a pottery booth in that situation seemed like a stretch. The parking was in a garage a couple of streets over that they worked out a slight discount with but was still going to be $50. I don't even think restrooms were provided and load in/out sounded like a nightmare.
  18. OK I didn't want to high jack a thread but we really hit on something of tremendous interest to me. I think business is a decent place to ask/discuss this because it goes to the heart of being viable in the selling of your work and that does matter to me. I completely understand the point of developing a particular style and sticking with it. I have researched and tried to conform. Continuity and consistency seems to be the leading points. People will come to recognize you as an artist based on the style you develop. You will better develop an expertise and a clearer artistic voice. Put a booth together with multiple styles and it will confuse your customers and it makes you look amateurish. Your style sets you apart from other artist and defines your... bla bla bla. But seriously, why? Pottery itself is redefined now. It's no longer a core industry but a labor of artistic toil. The only reason to make pottery is because you want to express yourself through process, output or both. If I was a painter I would work in pencil, watercolor and oil. I might plop all three on a canvas just to be arrogant. As a potter I want to work in low, mid, high, reduction, oxidation. I want to eventually cover all the firing techniques and as I become proficient I want to build out my line with forms from all of them. I want to add Egyptian paste jewelry (cool history). I want to mix functional and non functional. I want to express myself and from the few dozen low revenue shows I have done I think it would work and to be honest if done well I think it would have vastly increased my revenue at every one of these types of shows. I get that the high end art shows might/would shun me but who's kidding who I am not going to be doing many, if any, of those shows in any numbers any time soon. I seriously don't see how developing and selling same style mugs, bowls, plates etc. is going to make me any more successful. Why do so many feel you cannot develop a following of cutomers who like to see different styles under one tent. Would love to hear input positive and negative. Why do we as 2018 potters have to be boxed in to a choice for the rest of our careers?
  19. Competing Styles

    ha ha, maybe so, but going to do more. While I do very much respect the brain trust this board represents I do from time to time disagree with some of the input in regards to my direction. Even then it is invaluable and very much appreciated. A good debate is not to simply hear what you want to hear but hear for and against opinions. That rounds out the argument and enables me (and hopefully others) to thoughtfully make decisions. I failed in my first try at going full time as a potter, lost a year re-grouping and now with this re-boot I am doing a self analysis of what I'm doing. Skill is a daily thing and always will be. Put in the reps and toss bad work. Do more of what sells and less of what doesn't. Mixing styles and per another thread of mine last year, mediums (wood cutting boards) is bucking norms but I have decided that that is part of who I am as an artisan. Now of course the level of success that brings will work itself out in time. The make it or be damned approach didn't work so I am now taking a page out of Mea's always thoughtful advice and sticking with the day job and building pottery up part time. If it works itself up to a full time income then I guess I will be at a new crossroads. Part time does not mean less serious but it does mean compartmentalized. On this particular subject, I am just I absolutely convinced that point of sale displays will be good for my booth and will work to increase sales. Many here talk about pottery and art sales in general as not being able to escape the realities of commerce and I do believe that and that means giving weight to those standards and POS displays are considered extremely effective by almost every source I have read. I also firmly believe that many, if not most, folks that buy handmade pottery do so in part because they like buying artist/artisan products and they like supporting the makers. I do get that many here don't share that view and that's Ok but I think pottery has a rich historical backstory and I think my customers do care about it and playing it up a bit in my booth will help. I have this opinion after several dozen shows of dealing with all types of customers and decades of personal experience related to me and scores of people in my life space. Everybody knows they can go to any number of big box stores and buy very nice factory pottery for half the price of handmade.
  20. Competing Styles

    Well I really don't think adding a couple of display signs with enlarged images of my studio process to my booth is going to be a big negative.
  21. Competing Styles

    ha, ha yeah I'm good at that. I certainly don't want to argue with folks like Mark and Ron that have been doing this much longer than me. At my shows I get a lot of folks that specifically buy handmade and like to support artist, or at least they say they do. I do know since I have been back I have seen several threads on how handmade is in right now and everyone is doing a lot better at shows and shops than they had been doing over the past few years so that seems to support my position somewhat. I mean handmade matters or it doesn't. I know 20-25 years ago my wife and I and all of her family were combing fairs for handmade pottery and it mattered to us. I've still got some $50 cups from late 80's that we couldn't afford to prove it. Now for the last 20 we have bought much more but that doesn't count because my wife was potting and I am fairly sure her interest in pottery stems from all of those years of buying handmade pottery. Anyway, banners are cheap and even if they don't increase sales I seriously doubt they will decrease them and they will make me feel more proactive :-)
  22. Competing Styles

    Ya know Ron I just have to disagree on that one. I've only done few dozen shows but It's been my experience that people that like pottery do care. Even at my worst shows, the folks that come into my booth are by and large folks that like handmade, probably like pottery and the process matters to them and they pay more because of it and many feel very positive about supporting an artist/potter directly. I think most people don't know much about the process and hence seldom ask much about it. Most customers I also think like to have good packaging with cards etc for gifts. They want the recipient to know they bought handmade and didn't just grab a $5 mug at a big box store. now one of the kilns is fairly shiny but I will use the older worn looking one for my shots
  23. Competing Styles

    Exactly Chris, The price of banners is really so low that I want to really increase the use of them. I want my booth to have more backstory about it. I'm thinking a series of enlarged studio images with captions talking about the process but the pictures being informative enough that just glancing at the banners will convey the story and drive home the point that it's handmade. I might even have a couple of my old pads with earphones setting out with some video's for anyone whose interested. Pottery is cool and at the shows I do a lot of folks don't really get it. I mean they do but they don't. I know some people break through this barrier by having a wheel set up. Don't see myself doing this as just too much to do that and try and run the booth too but its that feel I want to get going. Now that I don't need the volume I will be concentrating on higher dollar pots and I want the booth to feel more expensive if that makes sense. Although these are not high-end art shows, people are spending money and they are buying gifts. i always feel like my booth is just blending in too much. I want more pop but in a good way.
  24. Competing Styles

    I am listening and really do hear the wisdom of this group and I know the overall consensus is right, sigh. I closed my doors (urr.. tent flaps) a year ago now and should be back up as a part timer in a few weeks. Everything feels new and with my reduced part time schedule I started re-thinking what has been my emerging lineup over the past three seasons. I have a few hundred pots boxed and was hitting stride pushing about 80 pots through a week. Was tough with one 7cf 1027 for bisque and glaze. Production routine was so important, now it's not. If I had made it then I don't think I would be at this crossroads because I would just be, well producing :-) Not really into fate but I think I will try and roll all of the wonderful advice above with a bit of change, just not as drastic as my original post. I have about 10 forms represented that I feel are where they need to be. I am going back through those boxes and will likely cull another 10-15% to really get it down to nothing but really solid work. I am pretty good at culling the work but I must admit as a fledgling business I started letting through a few pieces here and there that I was on the fence about and will pull out. I really have rolled these two statements around in my head since Chris and Mark posted. I see 35-50 pots tops a week with the new reduced schedule. My existing 300 or so pots are porcelain and I like the work and will keep making it but I am going to start adding some work with emphasis on the additional effects I can achieve in my oxidation environment along with Egyptian paste in my smaller test kiln and I am going to re-design my booth to work with this. I think large informative signs will help in conveying the different processes and may help pull things back together as a somewhat cohesive pottery booth albeit one with multiple styles. Many of the shows I do are somewhere between fairs and art shows. If they have done a good job keeping out buy/sell then its mostly a line up of makers in the area with artist booths in the mix. I seldom see more than another one or two potters. I think with a good booth I can make this work and have some punch with both a good solid functional line and some separated pots of different styles. Ya know I really think that a good form off the wheel is a good form. That skill is the bedrock of my work and I am not all over the place with that and will just keep getting in the daily reps. Production I am convinced is the best path to taking my pottery to the highest and best level it can go. Mugs for example as a hobbyist probably had almost an hour invested by the time they hit the shelf glazed but as a full timer that ended up around 15 minutes with maybe an extra 5 when I added badges and the form is better. I plan to keep up this push even though I no longer depend on pottery for food (which was a great motivator when tired). Thanks everyone!
  25. Nothing wrong with being rigid with your plans but it just might not match up with accomplishing the goal of making a living in pottery. If the ultimate goal is not to make a living then you can certainly do whatever you want and if it does not generate enough income then just supplement your income with a part time job of some sort. You mentioned failing a couple of times so that seems to be an acceptable outcome and that will take the pressure off if your approach just won't line up with a living wage and you can make whatever adjustments you need to make it work.
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