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Stephen

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  1. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Roberta12 in Transporting your work to an art fair   
    I buy the dish moving pouches at Lowes/Home Depot (about 50 cents a piece but last a long time) and come in small and large size. They may have a medium but have only seen and bought the two. It was a few hundred buck investment to start but just did it once and now just add a package or two here and there to replace ratty ripped ones from time to time. 
    I wouldn't stress too much about it though. We've done dozens of shows (one day and three day) and have only had a couple of damaged pots and none in a long time and we pack and unpack as fast as possible. Just make sure they are wrapped with something. MarK C turned us on to using cardboard squares in divided boxes over bubble wrap for mugs and we put those boxes in plastic bins (weather better). Can stack two and three layers of mugs really fast and used that method with zero issues. Ditched it lately for the pouches on mugs too because bigger mugs became a problem. Bubble wrap worked fine for years but we found it to really made breakdown take longer. Now we just slide into pouch and stack. Have to be careful on weight though because boxes will hold a lot of pots packed that way.  
    It probably takes two of us half an hour or so to pack a few hundred pots this way.
  2. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from LeeU in First Art Fair   
    Factories in china are turning out pots with the same "flaws" on every 6th pot. While no one wants to have bad pots on the rack I think you have to be very careful about tossing pots that just have characteristic blemishes from being hand made.   
  3. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in First Art Fair   
    As you start gathering your information and prepping for your next show I would take a look at inventory and try and determine where your revenue is going to come from. Ours usually comes from about 50% mugs/tumblers and perhaps a quarter comes from under $15 items. The rest comes from an assortment of platters, bowls, vases and other higher end pots. We use Square for checking out both credit cards and cash so we have a good record of everything in one spot. I would recommend checking them out.
    I bet you will be surprised how little difference running the booth is than your market shows.  
    Good luck! 
  4. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from cbarnes in First Art Fair   
    As you start gathering your information and prepping for your next show I would take a look at inventory and try and determine where your revenue is going to come from. Ours usually comes from about 50% mugs/tumblers and perhaps a quarter comes from under $15 items. The rest comes from an assortment of platters, bowls, vases and other higher end pots. We use Square for checking out both credit cards and cash so we have a good record of everything in one spot. I would recommend checking them out.
    I bet you will be surprised how little difference running the booth is than your market shows.  
    Good luck! 
  5. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Roberta12 in 1st "Big" Show, happy, I guess?   
    Hey way to go! Now you have inventory, sales and stats. Your next show is just replacing the pots you just sold and a few more 'new' forms to try.
    I know hearing about $7000-$8000 shows from others can be really depressing but I think very few potters do that kind of dough and the ones that do have spent many years finding the right line up of shows that work out that well for what they make. 
    Ya know I think all stats are important right now so you can keep track of whats working and what's not. I would try if possible to find out from one of the show folks what they estimate the attendance was so you can have something to use for future comps. Sounds like you did about 50 sales and that means there are 50 or so folks that like pottery and liked yours enough to buy and today all of those folks have your pottery proudly in their house. No one buys a $20 mug unless they really like it. Now it's just a numbers game and product fit. If you get the sales up to 100 and your average up a bit it more than doubles but the expenses don't and that dough looks better, right? I think you also got a taste of the fact that at these types of shows small items seem to be really popular and I think most of us try to have a number of small grabs as it will be most of the sales. The bigger, pricier stuff just moves more slowly.
    Don't forget to have fun! 
  6. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Rae Reich in 1st "Big" Show, happy, I guess?   
    Hey way to go! Now you have inventory, sales and stats. Your next show is just replacing the pots you just sold and a few more 'new' forms to try.
    I know hearing about $7000-$8000 shows from others can be really depressing but I think very few potters do that kind of dough and the ones that do have spent many years finding the right line up of shows that work out that well for what they make. 
    Ya know I think all stats are important right now so you can keep track of whats working and what's not. I would try if possible to find out from one of the show folks what they estimate the attendance was so you can have something to use for future comps. Sounds like you did about 50 sales and that means there are 50 or so folks that like pottery and liked yours enough to buy and today all of those folks have your pottery proudly in their house. No one buys a $20 mug unless they really like it. Now it's just a numbers game and product fit. If you get the sales up to 100 and your average up a bit it more than doubles but the expenses don't and that dough looks better, right? I think you also got a taste of the fact that at these types of shows small items seem to be really popular and I think most of us try to have a number of small grabs as it will be most of the sales. The bigger, pricier stuff just moves more slowly.
    Don't forget to have fun! 
  7. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from GreyBird in What temp is it ok to crack the kiln lid?   
    seeing it sooner is never worth messing up a load over. I've always turned vent off when cracking the lid and removing plugs since it will draw in the room air.
  8. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from LeeU in What temp is it ok to crack the kiln lid?   
    seeing it sooner is never worth messing up a load over. I've always turned vent off when cracking the lid and removing plugs since it will draw in the room air.
  9. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in 1st "Big" Show, happy, I guess?   
    Hey way to go! Now you have inventory, sales and stats. Your next show is just replacing the pots you just sold and a few more 'new' forms to try.
    I know hearing about $7000-$8000 shows from others can be really depressing but I think very few potters do that kind of dough and the ones that do have spent many years finding the right line up of shows that work out that well for what they make. 
    Ya know I think all stats are important right now so you can keep track of whats working and what's not. I would try if possible to find out from one of the show folks what they estimate the attendance was so you can have something to use for future comps. Sounds like you did about 50 sales and that means there are 50 or so folks that like pottery and liked yours enough to buy and today all of those folks have your pottery proudly in their house. No one buys a $20 mug unless they really like it. Now it's just a numbers game and product fit. If you get the sales up to 100 and your average up a bit it more than doubles but the expenses don't and that dough looks better, right? I think you also got a taste of the fact that at these types of shows small items seem to be really popular and I think most of us try to have a number of small grabs as it will be most of the sales. The bigger, pricier stuff just moves more slowly.
    Don't forget to have fun! 
  10. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Min in 1st "Big" Show, happy, I guess?   
    Hey way to go! Now you have inventory, sales and stats. Your next show is just replacing the pots you just sold and a few more 'new' forms to try.
    I know hearing about $7000-$8000 shows from others can be really depressing but I think very few potters do that kind of dough and the ones that do have spent many years finding the right line up of shows that work out that well for what they make. 
    Ya know I think all stats are important right now so you can keep track of whats working and what's not. I would try if possible to find out from one of the show folks what they estimate the attendance was so you can have something to use for future comps. Sounds like you did about 50 sales and that means there are 50 or so folks that like pottery and liked yours enough to buy and today all of those folks have your pottery proudly in their house. No one buys a $20 mug unless they really like it. Now it's just a numbers game and product fit. If you get the sales up to 100 and your average up a bit it more than doubles but the expenses don't and that dough looks better, right? I think you also got a taste of the fact that at these types of shows small items seem to be really popular and I think most of us try to have a number of small grabs as it will be most of the sales. The bigger, pricier stuff just moves more slowly.
    Don't forget to have fun! 
  11. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Rae Reich in Understanding Pottery for Business Collaboration   
    I think it will make a huge difference in the potters you talk to and the expenses they have beyond labor and how organized their studio is for doing a project like the one you mention. Many potters work from a home based studio and do not have employees. The primary cost for this type of potter is labor and studio time. If the studio time is available, meaning the schedule is not full with higher margin jobs, then your job is going to be looked at from a time standpoint with a set material cost. It also will matter how complex you want the bud vases to be. Can they be flat bottomed or do you want a foot on each? Can one glaze be used or do you want a white/clear liner glaze and a different one on outside?  Solid or additional decoration? Short for three cut flowers or tall? 
    We do a monthly show from a home studio so a job like this would be no different than the economics of some of the smaller forms we do for spec, such as small condiment bowls, spoon rest etc and carry on our rack. Granted there is a lost leader attitude about some of these pots but we price all of our work based on a minimum amount per hour for labor, cost and profit so if we carry it we make a profit on that item for the most part. While customers don't buy based on time to make, we certainly price with time as a factor. We price our studio time at $50 an hour to cover all of our cost including raw labor.
    Of course the economics would be totally different for a pottery with a lot of additional overhead to consider. We did have a retail location last year and the foot traffic was not enough to justify the location and had we stayed for a lease renewal all of our prices would have had to be increased to pay for a host of additional cost such as clerks, advertising, insurance etc and we decided to switch gears and do a very popular monthly local show instead. We live in a tourist town so this works as there new customers at every show.
    Good luck with your project, I wouldn't give up on it too quickly I think all the answers here show that there are a lot of answers to your question. Pottery is not something that a business can just order more of when they need inventory so everything is based on having to produce the pot and the playing field varies widely from how fast the potter is on the wheel and in other production aspects and the overhead they have to cover beyond labor cost.  
  12. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Creole in Understanding Pottery for Business Collaboration   
    I think it will make a huge difference in the potters you talk to and the expenses they have beyond labor and how organized their studio is for doing a project like the one you mention. Many potters work from a home based studio and do not have employees. The primary cost for this type of potter is labor and studio time. If the studio time is available, meaning the schedule is not full with higher margin jobs, then your job is going to be looked at from a time standpoint with a set material cost. It also will matter how complex you want the bud vases to be. Can they be flat bottomed or do you want a foot on each? Can one glaze be used or do you want a white/clear liner glaze and a different one on outside?  Solid or additional decoration? Short for three cut flowers or tall? 
    We do a monthly show from a home studio so a job like this would be no different than the economics of some of the smaller forms we do for spec, such as small condiment bowls, spoon rest etc and carry on our rack. Granted there is a lost leader attitude about some of these pots but we price all of our work based on a minimum amount per hour for labor, cost and profit so if we carry it we make a profit on that item for the most part. While customers don't buy based on time to make, we certainly price with time as a factor. We price our studio time at $50 an hour to cover all of our cost including raw labor.
    Of course the economics would be totally different for a pottery with a lot of additional overhead to consider. We did have a retail location last year and the foot traffic was not enough to justify the location and had we stayed for a lease renewal all of our prices would have had to be increased to pay for a host of additional cost such as clerks, advertising, insurance etc and we decided to switch gears and do a very popular monthly local show instead. We live in a tourist town so this works as there new customers at every show.
    Good luck with your project, I wouldn't give up on it too quickly I think all the answers here show that there are a lot of answers to your question. Pottery is not something that a business can just order more of when they need inventory so everything is based on having to produce the pot and the playing field varies widely from how fast the potter is on the wheel and in other production aspects and the overhead they have to cover beyond labor cost.  
  13. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from LeeU in Understanding Pottery for Business Collaboration   
    I think it will make a huge difference in the potters you talk to and the expenses they have beyond labor and how organized their studio is for doing a project like the one you mention. Many potters work from a home based studio and do not have employees. The primary cost for this type of potter is labor and studio time. If the studio time is available, meaning the schedule is not full with higher margin jobs, then your job is going to be looked at from a time standpoint with a set material cost. It also will matter how complex you want the bud vases to be. Can they be flat bottomed or do you want a foot on each? Can one glaze be used or do you want a white/clear liner glaze and a different one on outside?  Solid or additional decoration? Short for three cut flowers or tall? 
    We do a monthly show from a home studio so a job like this would be no different than the economics of some of the smaller forms we do for spec, such as small condiment bowls, spoon rest etc and carry on our rack. Granted there is a lost leader attitude about some of these pots but we price all of our work based on a minimum amount per hour for labor, cost and profit so if we carry it we make a profit on that item for the most part. While customers don't buy based on time to make, we certainly price with time as a factor. We price our studio time at $50 an hour to cover all of our cost including raw labor.
    Of course the economics would be totally different for a pottery with a lot of additional overhead to consider. We did have a retail location last year and the foot traffic was not enough to justify the location and had we stayed for a lease renewal all of our prices would have had to be increased to pay for a host of additional cost such as clerks, advertising, insurance etc and we decided to switch gears and do a very popular monthly local show instead. We live in a tourist town so this works as there new customers at every show.
    Good luck with your project, I wouldn't give up on it too quickly I think all the answers here show that there are a lot of answers to your question. Pottery is not something that a business can just order more of when they need inventory so everything is based on having to produce the pot and the playing field varies widely from how fast the potter is on the wheel and in other production aspects and the overhead they have to cover beyond labor cost.  
  14. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Rae Reich in Peter Pugger VPM 7 vs 9   
    We use the 9 and perfectly happy with it. Not sure I would want to drop from 25 ibs to 14 but not sure I wouldn't either. Like you said it comes down to feeding clay in more often, mixing and then pugging out logs of clay. Our 9 seems to be built very sturdy and fit for pro use and we have had it for over 10 years. The 7 looks to be made just as well but you might call the company and ask them if its of lower quality than the 9 in addition to being smaller.
    The way we pug is to accumulate scrape in buckets (with plastic trash liner and lid) and when it builds up to a few of those we process it. 10 years ago that was often but now we produce a lot less scrape so it takes a couple of months to have enough to reclaim. We are not hobbyist but not particularly high volume either, doing a dozen shows a year these days. 
    I just put some tunes on and feed the mixer and pug. It's just kind of a continuous process until all the scrape is done. With the 9 I fill it up, mix and  then pug out about 4 or so 18" clay logs and then repeat. If you had the 7 then I would guess that it would be 2-3 logs in between filling. That's the decision I think you are making. I can go through three 5 gallon buckets of reclaim in 5-6 cycles of this process and a 7 would be about twice that I assume. I don't know if the extra mixing might wear out the motor faster though and another good question for the company rep. Not seeing any wear on ours after over a decade of moderate use.
    It takes about an hour or so for me to process the 3 or so buckets but we stopped putting dry clay in. That always meant longer mixing times but the reason we stopped is that if we used the clay fairly quickly we found small chunks of clay. Mixing longer or letting it sit for a longer time probably would have fixed it as well but just keeping wet scrap wet and slaking the occasional bone dry reclaim both fixed it and keeps the mixing time short.
    Not sure the size difference but that might make a difference as well. I built a 6x2 foot cart with a Formica counter top and would love it to be smaller and take up less space but we use a 600 foot garagio and space is a premium.
    I bet you will be happy regardless of which one you choose, they seem to be a great company with well made machines. 
     
  15. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from LeeU in How Many Exclusively Make A Living?   
    ya know I think you missed LeeU's point. I agree with her that the stat is not useful because of all the reasons she said. yes it is a business but it is also a passion to many who do it and that makes a difference in how its approached and the sacrifices and time demands that an all-in  potter might put up with may well be much different than businesses like plumbing, air conditioning or Real Estate etc. I failed at trying to go full time but I was willing to go to much more of an extreme trying to salvage it than any other business I can think of. If driving a Nova was all it would have taken I be a Nova driving potter today 
      
  16. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Marge in Peter Pugger VPM 7 vs 9   
    We use the 9 and perfectly happy with it. Not sure I would want to drop from 25 ibs to 14 but not sure I wouldn't either. Like you said it comes down to feeding clay in more often, mixing and then pugging out logs of clay. Our 9 seems to be built very sturdy and fit for pro use and we have had it for over 10 years. The 7 looks to be made just as well but you might call the company and ask them if its of lower quality than the 9 in addition to being smaller.
    The way we pug is to accumulate scrape in buckets (with plastic trash liner and lid) and when it builds up to a few of those we process it. 10 years ago that was often but now we produce a lot less scrape so it takes a couple of months to have enough to reclaim. We are not hobbyist but not particularly high volume either, doing a dozen shows a year these days. 
    I just put some tunes on and feed the mixer and pug. It's just kind of a continuous process until all the scrape is done. With the 9 I fill it up, mix and  then pug out about 4 or so 18" clay logs and then repeat. If you had the 7 then I would guess that it would be 2-3 logs in between filling. That's the decision I think you are making. I can go through three 5 gallon buckets of reclaim in 5-6 cycles of this process and a 7 would be about twice that I assume. I don't know if the extra mixing might wear out the motor faster though and another good question for the company rep. Not seeing any wear on ours after over a decade of moderate use.
    It takes about an hour or so for me to process the 3 or so buckets but we stopped putting dry clay in. That always meant longer mixing times but the reason we stopped is that if we used the clay fairly quickly we found small chunks of clay. Mixing longer or letting it sit for a longer time probably would have fixed it as well but just keeping wet scrap wet and slaking the occasional bone dry reclaim both fixed it and keeps the mixing time short.
    Not sure the size difference but that might make a difference as well. I built a 6x2 foot cart with a Formica counter top and would love it to be smaller and take up less space but we use a 600 foot garagio and space is a premium.
    I bet you will be happy regardless of which one you choose, they seem to be a great company with well made machines. 
     
  17. Like
    Stephen reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in How Many Exclusively Make A Living?   
    The banks won't touch Canadian potters for a startup loan either.
    I've done something similar to what Mea described. I still work out of a 11x10 basement studio (storage and kiln are outside of this). I owned my wheel, 3 boxes of clay and my glaze kitchen when I started to go from making a few pots to making a formal business out of it. I opened a seperate bank account for all things business and scraped together about $700 for booth expenses and firing fees by doing stupid things like market research surveys, odd jobs and anything else that let me squirrel away $100. My first booth setup consisted of things I owned and a friend's folding table that I borrowed. I made my sign with a piece of scrap fabric and some spray paint. 
    I've finished up my fourth full fiscal year in December, and I'm now at the point where I'm applying for a GST number because I'm on track to hit the amount where I'm required by the government to collect it (yay!). Yes, I'm excited about that, because it means I'll sell  more than $30,000 worth of pots this year. (Note that's not my net.)
    It sounds romantic and like a humble brag, but it's actually an unforgiving pile of work, during which a lot of people will be completely confused by what you're doing. And no one was ever fully able to articulate to me how long it will take to make an income. For me, I am at the point now where I have all the equpiment I should need for the foreseeable future or an amount set aside to purchase it. I have a savings cushion enough to cover a year's worth of booth fees and a small fund for travel expenses. I can now start to pull a small but regular income.
    Making pots and running a business are two very different skill sets. If you want to support yourself exclusively by making pots, you need to possess them both. If you want a profitable hobby, which is also great, it takes some work but it's doable.
  18. Like
    Stephen reacted to Mark C. in How Many Exclusively Make A Living?   
    I think a potter should stay out of debt. Work with what you can afford . As you grow so wiill the budget . The thing about pottery full time is starting out your income is all over the board-did the wholesale order come in or the show was flop. Until you get established and that will take more years than most want to put in. I have seen many on this board come and go and thats been in only 6 years trying to make it in clay. I have personally known a few potters locally who tried and gave up as well.Its not for most.
    As in most small businesses the failurer rate is very high  as Mea said and in clay I think its higher.
    I also think most think they can make what they want and money will follow and thats just not true. If I made solely what I like I'd be  flipping burgers today instead of clay work.
    I make what others want and am ok with that-finding a path that fits you is the hardest part.I make salt pots for fun and not for sale and only if I;'m all done with production work.
    Clay can be a job and clay can be fun and clay can be hard.
    Part of me  is still is in awe that folks pay me to be in the studio-it just  took a very long time to be super successful at this for me.
  19. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from DirtRoads in Do show in pouring rain or bail?   
    way to go man, you did what you said you would do. Weather is just part of doing shows. The level of no shows IMHO shows a lack of commitment and they hurt you directly and the show in general and next year I bet the organizers will think twice about letting them sign up. 
  20. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Rae Reich in Do show in pouring rain or bail?   
    ya know most folks who smoke pot are not potheads, just like most folks who drink are not drunks. 
  21. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Rae Reich in Do show in pouring rain or bail?   
    We had a zero day. It was a Sat market in the PNW in April 4-5 years ago. The temperature was in the twenties and it was alternating between downpour and just steady rain all day. Absolutely miserable and no one beyond vendors showed up and the vendors all stayed in their booths and just hunkered down for the damned thing to end. The show was an hours drive, ran between 9-2 and was always good for few hundred or more and it was usually raining at least part of the day. This was a juried seasonal show and if you signed up and didn't show you were likely out for the rest of the season so every one showed, no one made any dough and I doubt anyone thought they would. Just one of those things you had to suffer through.
    Most of these short one day shows with only 4-5 hours of selling only did a few hundred on an average day. Some were mid week so we often did 3 (mid week, Sat and Sun) in three completely different areas.
    Was it worth it? yes and no. We were trying to make a living from shows and in between a monthly weekend show these one day'ers spotted around the area were a way to go get paid and sometimes, paid well. Now once you add in couple hours load in and out, couple of hours driving and 5 hours selling, a lower end till was kind of comical and something we joked about it, but we often worked in 8-10 of these a month. The PNW has almost nothing until April and outdoor shows wrap up in October with Xmas shows mostly indoors (at least the ones we did) so those extra few grand a month from these shows provided a steady, small cash flow around weekend shows and our good monthly shows meant more and the bad ones hurt less.  
  22. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Rae Reich in Do show in pouring rain or bail?   
    way to go man, you did what you said you would do. Weather is just part of doing shows. The level of no shows IMHO shows a lack of commitment and they hurt you directly and the show in general and next year I bet the organizers will think twice about letting them sign up. 
  23. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Hulk in New (to me) kiln   
    If I had a manual kiln I would follow Hulks advice and add a pyrometer so I could watch whats going on in the kiln temp wise and add a cone pack he mentioned with one cone below, one cone dead on and one a cone number above the target. The thing is the time changes as the elements wear out and since the kiln is manual you have to make the ongoing adjustments or I guess just wait until a load gets under-fired. 
    Amazon has some thermocouple type ones and I saw one at Sheffield.
    https://www.sheffield-pottery.com/Paragon-Kilns-DT2-7-Digital-Handheld-PYROMETER-p/pdt27.htm?_vsrefdom=adwords&gclid=Cj0KCQjwocPnBRDFARIsAJJcf94YqOp_8-vCHkflwMR0It2bS4a6BHV2qhyUTRoueHuU7BDLr46u2QYaAqXQEALw_wcB
     
  24. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from spottylover in New (to me) kiln   
    If I had a manual kiln I would follow Hulks advice and add a pyrometer so I could watch whats going on in the kiln temp wise and add a cone pack he mentioned with one cone below, one cone dead on and one a cone number above the target. The thing is the time changes as the elements wear out and since the kiln is manual you have to make the ongoing adjustments or I guess just wait until a load gets under-fired. 
    Amazon has some thermocouple type ones and I saw one at Sheffield.
    https://www.sheffield-pottery.com/Paragon-Kilns-DT2-7-Digital-Handheld-PYROMETER-p/pdt27.htm?_vsrefdom=adwords&gclid=Cj0KCQjwocPnBRDFARIsAJJcf94YqOp_8-vCHkflwMR0It2bS4a6BHV2qhyUTRoueHuU7BDLr46u2QYaAqXQEALw_wcB
     
  25. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Hulk in Kilnsitter stopped firing, witness cone not bent   
    I would also add that you might consider using a cone pack with one cone below target and one cone above target to help zero in.  
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